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Palace verifying reports NFA chief is US citizen By Delon Porcalla and Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 30, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is verifying reports that the administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA) is an American citizen, which is not allowed under the agency’s charter. “There is an ongoing review and verification process to address other issues pertinent to this appointment,” Press Secretary Herminio Coloma yesterday told a news briefing, when sought for a reaction to the appointment of NFA administrator Orlan Calayag. The NFA charter allows only natural-born Filipinos to head the agency. Coloma said Malacañang has a strict screening process for all applicants to appointive posts in government, and that hundreds, if not thousands, of documents go through the process everyday. “There are hundreds of appointments being made that go to the Office of the President, and each one of those appointments goes through a vetting and screening process. So that is what was done in this case and in all other appointments,” he said. Citing information provided by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Coloma explained that Calayag was only serving the “unexpired term” of his predecessor Angelito Banayo who resigned from the post. Calayag’s appointment was effective from Jan. 17 to June 2013, according to Coloma. He was reappointed on July 12, 2013. “All of these are in accordance with Republic Act 10149 or the Governance Commission for GOCCs Law,” Coloma said. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala endorsed Calayag, who was his chief of staff when he was still a congressman from Quezon province. Alcala is a close friend of President Aquino, who himself had served as Tarlac congressman from 1998 to 2007. Lawyer Argee Guevarra earlier raised the issue regarding Calayag’s citizenship, noting that even if dual citizenship is allowed under Philippine laws, renouncing one’s original citizenship and acquiring a new one violates and dilutes the natural-born requirement. Calayag flew back from the US to the Philippines in December 2011 bearing US Passport 462971672. He acquired dual citizenship on Jan. 7, 2013. “How was Alcala able to dupe the President into signing Calayag’s appointment in the first place? Even assuming he has regained dual citizenship, still, that does not qualify him for appointment in our bureaucracy,” Guevarra pointed out. Citing jurisprudence in Maquiling vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 195649, 16 April 2013) and Mercado vs. Manzano (G.R. No. 135083, 26 May 1999), Guevarra argued: “First, one who renounces his Philippine citizenship when he became an American citizen is no longer a natural-born citizen of the Philippines; second, even when he became a dual citizen under RA No. 9225 he does not automatically re-acquire his status as a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.”


DA chief told to quit Rep. Carlos Zarate of the party-list group Bayan Muna, for his part, is asking Secretary Alcala to quit his job over his appointment of Calayag. In making the appeal yesterday, Zarate said Alcala may not have informed President Aquino that Calayag holds dual citizenship. Zarate, who is a lawyer, said a dual citizen should not be heading a sensitive agency like the NFA. He pointed out that Aquino, apparently embarrassed over Alcala’s appointment of a FilipinoAmerican as NFA chief, has asked the DA secretary why he recommended a dual citizen. Zarate also called on Calayag to immediately quit to avoid further embarrassment to Aquino. He said the appointment of a dual citizen at NFA “is one of a string of anomalies that happened in the Department of Agriculture under Secretary Alcala.” He said the anomalies include the transfer of hundreds of millions in pork barrel funds of certain senators and congressmen to bogus foundations associated with alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles. The funds were transferred as late as 2011 and last year despite red flags previously raised over the questionable transactions of the Napoles foundations, he said. He added that it was either Alcala’s officials pulled a fast one on him or he tolerated the anomalies. Alcala has acknowledged that pork barrel fund-related irregularities happened in his department under his watch, and that he has ordered an inquiry. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/10/30/1250971/palace-verifying-reports-nfa-chief-uscitizen


Rice importers: NFA violating international treaty Category: Regions 29 Oct 2013 Written by Joel San Juan RICE importers whose shipment have been held by the National Food Authority (NFA) have contested the agency’s authority to issue discretionary import permits for rice in light of the expiration of the country’s right to impose limits and restrictions in the importation of the critical food staple. The importers’ legal team also argued that the NFA’s continued insistence on enforcing import restrictions on rice is in violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO)-General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Benito Salazar, lawyer of Silent Royalty Marketing and Starcraft International, said “the NFA lost its authority to issue permits for the importation of rice when quantitative restrictions on rice were lifted in June 2012.” The NFA, however, continues to insist that the quantitative restrictions remain in effect. In its September 6 letter addressed to Salazar and signed by the NFA Special Assistant to the Administrator Dennis Guerrero, the NFA said “quantitative restriction on rice remains effective” per Republic Act 8178. The NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag subsequently issued statements accusing Silent Royalty Marketing and Starcraft International, among others, of being involved in rice-smuggling operations in Davao. “The NFA should seriously consider the ramifications of its insistence on its authority to issue permits for the importation of rice. Are they now saying we have no obligation to honor major international trade agreements?” Salazar asked. “Maybe NFA Administrator Calayag would have a better appreciation of the intricacies of international trade if he convened the NFA Council more often and learned from its more experienced and learned members from the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] and DOF [Department of Finance].” Salazar explained that the NFA position was inconsistent with international agreements the country was party to. In a letter dated September 10, addressed to Calayag, Salazar said “the issuance by NFA of an import permit is classified as discretionary import permit” and that such was considered “a form of quantitative import restriction.” Salazar added that with the expiration of the quantitative restrictions in June 2012, “the right of the Philippines, including the NFA, to impose quantitative restrictions [including issuance of NFA import permits] has already elapsed.” Quantitative restrictions allow member-countries of the WTO to restrict the importation of sensitive agricultural products. The Philippines became a member of the WTO in January 1995, and like all WTO member governments agreed to improve market access and reduce trade-


distorting subsidies and restrictions in agriculture. A “special treatment” provision in the WTO agreement, however, provides for restriction on imports of primary sensitive agricultural products subject to strict conditions. Based on the “special treatment” provision for rice granted by the WTO, the Philippines was allowed to impose quantitative restrictions on rice and was been exempted from rice-import liberalization from 1995 to 2005. In January 2004, the country requested an extension of the privilege, and was allowed to continue imposing quantitative restrictions until June 2012. While government representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DA) have been tasked to obtain extensions of the privilege, they have twice been denied by the WTO. The fact that the country had repeatedly asked for an extension of the “special treatment” or quantitative restrictions, Salazar added, only proves that the government is aware that WTO approval was necessary before it could continue enforcing the said restrictions. “DA-NFA will not expend so much effort and expense in trying to convince member-countries to agree to another extension if the former consider the same to be unnecessary,” Salazar also said in his letter. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/regions/21946-rice-importers-nfa-violatinginternational-treaty


Gov’t to boost production of key commodities By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 30, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The government prefers to build up production of key commodities through small farmers to help the country attain inclusive growth, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said. In a recent interview, Alcala said that while the government is keeping its doors open to big ticket investors in the agriculture sector, it is focused on developing the production capacity of small farmers. “We are open to big investors but we want to focus more on small farmers. We just have to integrate them so we have economies of scale, that it very important,” he said. “It would be easier for us if we would just invite big investors so we cover everything but what will happen to small farmers? It was the instruction of the President to aspire for inclusive growth, to tap as many farmers and fishermen as we can.” Under its flagship Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), the Department of Agriculture seeks to attain by yearend, self sufficiency in major food staples rice, corn and by 2016, attain increased production of other staple root crops like cassava to be used as substitute to corn for human consumption and as additive to animal feed. The government is particularly aggressive in attaining production targets for palay and corn to lessen imports and eventually revive the country’s exportation prowess. The Philippines is expected to produce between 19 million metric tons (MT) and 20 million MT of palay this year after producing more than 18 million MT last year. By yearend, the Philippines is expected to be 98 percent sufficient in the grain. Next year, farmers are expected to produce 21 million MT; importation is seen to be limited within the 350,000 minimum access volume (MAV). http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/10/30/1250858/govt-boost-production-key-commodities


Seafood exporters urged to comply with int’l standards by Edu Lopez  October 29, 2013  

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has urged seafood exporters to comply with the international safety standards to avoid rejection when products are subjected to strict testing processes. “If you are well-versed with the standard requirements of the importing country, you will be able to interpret beforehand if your product will pass or fail in the international market,” said Belinda Raymundo, BFAR aquaculturist. Raymundo advised local food exporters to implement safety measures right from the initial stage-raw-material sourcing-since their efforts may be undermined if the supply used is not fresh. Products undergo sensory evaluation, with inspectors making assessments based on appearance, including of the skin, eyes, flesh, and shell; on smell; and on the presence of foreign matter, said Raymundo. Aside from assessing their sensory characteristics, seafood products also have to undergo microbiological and chemical laboratory testing following established sampling plans and procedures. These include tests for toxins such as E. coli, listeria monocytogenes, enterococci, salmonella, and vibro cholerae; heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium; as well as chemicals, antibiotic residues, and dyes. Consuelo Baltazar, BFAR supervising aquaculturist, has urged food exporters to conduct comparative studies on which export destinations may have less stringent safety requirements to raise the chances of product acceptance. “Exporters should also look at improving product packaging. Philippine exports are at par with the best in the world, but they sometimes fall short when it comes to packaging design,” said Baltazar. Exporters and producers can approach BFAR for technical assistance and updates on guidelines for the successful exportation of seafood. http://www.mb.com.ph/seafood-exporters-urged-to-comply-with-intl-standards/


Government to put up P100-million halal laboratory Category: Agri-Commodities 29 Oct 2013 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent THE government is constructing a P100-million laboratory that is capable of testing the DNA of food products in its bid to position the Philippines as a major producer of halal food. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said the government is keen on helping local producers take advantage of the global market for halal. “One of the urgent projects of the DOST is the establishment of a national laboratory that can identify miniscule haram or materials that are harmful to the body and can be recognized by Muslim countries,” Science Undersecretary Carol M. Yorobe said. The Philippines has yet to be officially recognized by Muslim countries as a “halal food-capable producing nation.” “Even with the many food products available in groceries with different halal logos, the consumers should be aware that the halal industry is largely unregulated, and there is no existing official body in the country that can really certify food as halal,” DOST Regional Director Haja Zenaida Abdul Raof Laiban said. Laiban noted that some canned goods manufactured in the Philippines were banned in Muslim countries as they contained materials that were not halal-compliant. The DOST official said this is “lamentable” considering that there are many Philippine companies that are keen on venturing into the halal food business. “We requested that the halal laboratory be constructed in Koronadal City, so we can tap Filipino Muslims who will ensure the quality of halal foods,” Laiban said. One requirement of halal food production is that a non-Muslim company or owner should employ Muslims in their facilities, Laiban said. “This is the reason we need a single body in the country that can confer certification, and the Islamic communities, including international companies, prefer government bodies that will give halal certification,” she added. A senate bill authored by Sen. Cynthia Villar seeks the creation of the Philippine Halal and Regulatory Board to answer this need. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/21957‐government‐to‐put‐up‐ p100‐million‐halal‐laboratory    


Cordillera farmers all set to develop coffee industry Category: Agri-Commodities 29 Oct 2013 Written by PNA BAGUIO CITY—Some 1,000 agroforest farmers in the highlands of Cordilleras in Northern Luzon are all set to develop their age-old coffee-beans production as multimillion-peso industry. This was learned from Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Marilyn Sta. Catalina who confirmed that the national convention on coffee industry next month shall focus on how to increase further the coffee produced yearly and the linkages to possible market outlets. Historically, the Europeans and Americans in the 18th century who settled for good in these cool highlands, discovered that the aromatic brew they enjoy in their countries with cool weather could be enjoyed from coffee grown locally in these areas, where vast mountainsides could be converted as coffee farms or plantations. In the most recent years, many local farmers especially in the province of Kalinga already tried to go into coffee-tract farming, enabling them to produce in 2012 an aggregate total of 3,898 metric tons (MT) of coffee beans of “Arabica” and “Robusta.” For the past three years, the Kalinga coffee producers were able to break into market abroad of their unique brewed coffee which is unique by its strong but mellow taste. Records at the DA office here reveal that if coffee growers go full blast, they can at least devote 40,000 hectares of the crop and would generate an annual income of at least P1 billion. The projected output was made some three years ago when the DA specialists determined that coffee could be among the region’s high-value commercial crops with one of the most potential. Based on the 2012 coffee production, the combined output of coffee growers of Kalinga, Ifugao, Benguet, Mountain Province, Abra and Apayao only totaled 5,608 MT of coffee beans. Ifugao had produced 1,061 MT; Benguet, 491 MT; Mountain Province, 155 MT; Abra, 53 MT; and Apayao, 12 MT. Sta. Catalina said that as of this year, the DA has already ventured with the propagation of coffee varieties planting materials and they account for the planting of Arabica and Robusta coffee in some existing 6,720 hectares of local coffee farms. Next year, the DA will spend P24 million for the propagated planting materials which will be sufficient to plant at least 300 hectares of suitable lands in various parts of the region.


Even the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) which has linkages to possible buyers has joined in the grand coffee industry of the region which have all the potential as a ranking dollarearner in the locality. The DTI has opined that local coffee farmers are not producing enough of the exportable product as seen in the country’s production only 39,000 MT in year 2011. Sta. Catalina has expressed optimism that when all the Philippines coffee stakeholders meet here next month, they could plan how they could maximize their production in the macro terms of involvement in the industry of the country. Part of that optimism doesn’t so much rest on the technical capabilities of the local agroforest farmers but the fact that the coffee culture is like one of the indigenous livelihood of Cordilleras since time immemorial. PNA http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri-commodities/21956-cordillera-farmersall-set-to-develop-coffee-industry


BFAR Fish Cemetery haven for 24 sea creatures By Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 30, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – At least 18 dolphins are buried at the Fish Cemetery located inside the compound of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Barangay Bonuan, Binloc. A total of 24 sea creatures like dolphins, whales and sea turtles had found their home here. Aside from dolphins, huge sea creatures like whales and giant sea turtles interred here. The heaviest of them all was a three-ton Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) found in Manila Bay on Dec. 31, 2008. Of the dolphins however, the heaviest was a 500-kilogram Rissos dolphin (Grampus griseus) found in Barangay Tiblong, San Fabian town on July 18, 2000. The smallest was a Spinner dolphin (Stenella longilostris) that weighed two kilograms only retrieved on March 8, 2000 in Barangay Sabangan this city. First to be laid in this fish cemetery was a giant Sperm whale, named Moby Dick that was found in Malabon City in Metro Manila in February 1999. Aside from Moby Dick, a dwarf Sperm whale (Kogia simus) found in Pangapisan, Lingayen, Pangasinan on May 8, 2005, was also buried here. A 17-foot long whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) found in Manila Bay on Oct. 29, 2009; a giant sea turtle “Red Tape” (Dermochelys coriacea) found in Bugallon, Pangasinan in November 2002, and a green sea turtle (Chelona mydas) from Nibaliw, San Fabian, were buried here. The latest to be buried here was a 78-kilogram rare striped dolphin ( (Stenella coeruleoalba)) found stranded in the beachfront of the Lingayen Capitol on Oct. 8. Each of these sea creatures had their respective tombstones inscribed with information such as their species, weight and place of recovery. Westly Rosario, BFAR center chief and founder of the Fish Cemetery, said the idea came about when a 1.2 ton whale abandoned by its owner was seized in Malabon in February 1999. The dead sea animal was brought to BFAR-National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center (NIFTDC) here for disposal. It was buried in a plot inside the 24-hectare BFAR-NIFTDC compound in Barangay Bonuan Binloc, Dagupan City.


BFAR was unable to determine the specie of the whale because it was transported and buried at dawn, so they named it “Moby Dick.” From a simple grave of Moby Dick, the area has become a common grave of other large endangered species, collected by BFAR-NIFTDC or brought by concerned citizens, local government units and fishermen. “Burying the remains of protected fish species will remind a person that selling and eating their meat is a crime and not tolerated by the government,” Rosario said. He said the cemetery institutionalizes respect to animals that contribute to the balance of aquatic environment. Like the cemeteries for humans, the Fish Cemetery is being spruced during this period. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/10/30/1250847/bfar-fish-cemetery-haven-24-sea-creatures


CL expects bigger rice yield by Mark Manuel  October 29, 2013  

City Of San Fernando, Pampanga — Central Luzon is expected to produce 3.4 million metric tons of rice in 2013, bigger than last year’s yield, the Department of Agriculture (DA) here reported yesterday. The DA said this projection is set to be achieved by farmers in Region 3 notwithstanding the 250,000 metric tons of rice destroyed by typhoon “Santi” this month. The projected harvests are expected from the provinces of Pampanga, Nueva Ejica, Bataan, Aurora, Zambales, Bulacan and Tarlac and at least 200,000 kilograms more than the total harvest last year of 3.2 tons, it said. Agriculture Regional Director for Central Luzon Andrew Villacorta said that if not for the recent calamities that hit the region, the yield would have reached 3.7 million metric tons – the biggestever. Villacorte urged rice farmers in the region to use hybrid rice to cope with the effect of recent typhoons. http://www.mb.com.ph/cl-expects-bigger-rice-yield/


Developer to bring fight vs land reform to SC By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.  Inquirer Visayas   8:02 pm | Tuesday, October 29th, 2013  

ILOILO CITY—A company planning to develop Sicogon Island into a world-class tourist destination plans to petition the Supreme Court to stop the use of parts of the island for the government’s agrarian reform program. Lawyer Rene Espiritu, one of the legal counsels of Sicogon Development Corp. (Sideco), said the company did not recognize the legality of a move made by the Department of Agrarian Reform to place parts of the island under agrarian reform and distribute these to the landless. Espiritu said DAR erred when it classified parts of the island as agrarian reform areas and their residents as farmers. He said Sicogon should not be subjected to agrarian reform because it is a tourism zone and its residents are fishermen, not farmers. Lawyer Alain Ross Somile, also a legal counsel of Sideco, said at least 345 hectares of the total 809-ha property of Sideco in Sicogon have been subjected to compulsory acquisition, a mode of acquiring land for the agrarian reform program. Tension is gripping the island over the long-drawn dispute between Sideco and a group of residents who accused the company of forcibly ejecting them from their homes and of taking over public lands to pave the way for a P10-billion development project on the 1,160-ha island. Sideco, a company controlled by the Sarrosa family, plans to revive the island as a world-class destination with a foreign partner. The company plans to build a five-star hotel, seaport and airport. The island, part of Carles town, Iloilo province, 146 km northeast of here, was a top tourist destination in the 1970s because of its white sand beach. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/516879/developer‐to‐bring‐fight‐vs‐land‐reform‐to‐ sc#ixzz2jAdz8W1j   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook     


Firm cries foul over smuggling tag in Davao By Germelina Lacorte  Inquirer Mindanao   7:45 pm | Tuesday, October 29th, 2013  

DAVAO CITY—The lawyer of a rice importing firm whose shipments have been held by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) here chided the National Food Authority (NFA) for the unlawful seizure of their rice imports, and for the government agency’s “ignorance” of international trade laws. Lawyer Benito Salazar, legal counsel of Starcraft International, whose 107 containers of rice imports were held at the BOC here on Monday for lack of an import permit, said rice importation no longer requires import permits after the country’s quantitative restrictions under the World Trade Organization (WTO)—General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) expired in June last year. Salazar said NFA officials, particularly NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag, should acquaint themselves better with rice importation laws because the NFA’s letters to his client “betray” their ignorance of international trade agreements. He was reacting to Calayag’s earlier statement accusing Starcraft International and Silent Royalty Marketing of allegedly being involved in rice smuggling in Davao. Calayag had also asked the BOC to file charges against the alleged rice smugglers and those involved within the BOC. “We take exception to the statements of the NFA and emphasize that all rice shipments of Starcraft International and Silent Royalty Marketing have been fully declared as rice,” Salazar said. “There has been no misdeclaration of shipment, no attempt to hide anything,” he said. Salazar said the NFA sent an Aug. 5 letter to Silent Royalty Marketing, requiring the company to submit receipts and explanations of its shipment in five days. In the letter, Calayag warned that failure to submit an explanation would be deemed as a waiver of the company’s “right to be heard on the matter.” Calayag also threatened to submit the case to authorities “for appropriate action.” But Salazar said the firm pointed out that the present regime of granting rice import quotas and the corresponding permit to import was based on the extension of the Philippines’ right to impose quantitative restrictions on rice. “That extension, however, expired in June 2012 and, as such, the country has no more legal right to impose QR on rice,” Salazar said. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/516831/firm‐cries‐foul‐over‐smuggling‐tag‐in‐davao#ixzz2jAeKdnZD    


Group claims GMOs failed to deliver promised benefits By Maricar Cinco  Inquirer Southern Luzon   7:44 pm | Tuesday, October 29th, 2013    

SAN PEDRO, Laguna—A group of farmers and scientists claimed that the production of genetically-modified (GM) corn fell short of its promise to increase yield and lower farming costs, a decade after genetically-engineered crops were first introduced in the Philippines. In a 24-minute documentary shot in various locations, farmers recounted the negative effects of planting the GM corn, a general term used for corn breeds whose gene pool was altered to make the plant herbicide-tolerant. According to the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag), a group promoting sustainable and organic farming, 685,317 hectares of Philippines’ agricultural land were planted with GM corn since its commercialization was approved by the government in 2003. “Every year the amount of inputs being used increases. For an 18-kilo (bag) of seeds that is good for one hectare, I (used to) use only 4 to 5 bags of fertilizers. (But) today for the same amount of seeds, I use 12 to 15 bags of fertilizers,” said farmer Marlon Malong from Banaban, Pangasinan province. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/516829/group‐claims‐gmos‐failed‐to‐deliver‐promised‐ benefits#ixzz2jAf66nho   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

         


SL Agritech exports 100 metric tons of fancy rice By Riza T. Olchondra  Philippine Daily Inquirer   9:51 pm | Tuesday, October 29th, 2013  

SL Agritech Corp. has shipped out 100 metric tons (MT) of the Doña Maria hybrid rice to Dubai, boosting the country’s fancy rice exports this year. In a statement, SL Agritech said its rice shipment to Dubai would be distributed via a big international retail chain. SL Agritech added that it expects to regularly export to the Filipino market there. “This rice is really being awaited by Filipinos in Dubai,” Michelle Lim-Gankee, SL Agritech assistant to the chair, said in a statement. Agriculture Undersecretary Dante S. Delima said in a separate statement that 300 MT of rice had so far been shipped out by the Philippines. “We didn’t really anticipate that the response of the international market to our rice would be warm,” said Delima. Delima said the Department of Agriculture would continue to tap opportunities to export fancy rice and at the same time sustain efforts to make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice. The country imported just 187,000 MT of rice this year, ending decades of massive importation that peaked at 2.4 million tons in 2010. Hybrid rice area in the Philippines is just at 150,000 hectares, and Gankee said an additional 500,000 hectares of hybrid rice area would easily make Philippines produce an incremental two million MT of rice. That will be more than enough to offset the 187,000 MT of imports in 2013. That is given the fact that hybrid rice has proven to be capable of raising farmers’ yield by four MT per hectare from the national average yield placed at about 3.5 MT to 3.8 MT per hectare. By just converting inbred rice into hybrids and following best cultural practices, farmers can harvest 8 MT per hectare, or even more. “That will be an additional two million tons that can feed 13 million people. We’re proud that this is a premium rice that the export market finds easy to accept. We’re happy to be supporting [the government] for the Philippines to have a world-class quality product,” Gankee said. DA aided companies in the export through the issuance of a special export permit.


The Philippines has not been exporting rice due to the need to produce enough food for local consumption. Delima said the maiden shipment of 15 MT of organic black rice from Cotabato produced by the Don Bosco Multipurpose Cooperative (MPC) and 20 MT of Jasponica and Miponica Dona Maria brown and white rice in May this year was really just for testing. “Our export really has a very good effect on the international market. The purpose of our export program was just for testing so we could determine if other countries will find our rice as an alternative to those that are already in the global market. And the effect has been very positive,” he said. Special types of rice produced in the Cordillera Region—the Unoy and Tinawon from the rice terraces—were also exported in September. “Our export is focused on premium special rice, like we produce heirloom rice from Cordillera. There is no other country that produces Tinawon, Unoy, or our other heirloom varieties. So we need to maximize the price advantage of our rice in the world market,” Delima said. http://business.inquirer.net/149875/sl‐agritech‐exports‐100‐metric‐tons‐of‐fancy‐rice                        


Importers contest seizure of rice, say NFA violating rules of WTO • •

Written by Benjamin B. Pulta Wednesday, 30 October 2013 00:00

Importers are contesting the National Food Authority’s (NFA’s) authority to issue discretionary import permits for rice, citing the expiration of the country’s right to impose limits and restrictions in the importation of the critical food staple. Its legal team has also argued that the NFA’s continued insistence on enforcing import restrictions on rice is in violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO)-General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Lawyer Benito Salazar, legal counsel for Silent Royalty Marketing and Starcraft International, said “the NFA lost its authority to issue permits for the importation of rice when quantitative restrictions on rice were lifted in June 2012.” The NFA, however, continues to argue that the quantitative restrictions remain in effect. In its Sept. 6, 2013 letter to Salazar and signed by NFA Special Assistant to the Administrator Dennis Guerrero, the NFA said “quantitative restriction on rice remains effective” per Republic Act 8178. NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag subsequently issued statements accusing Silent Royalty Marketing and Starcraft International, among others, of being involved in rice smuggling operations in Davao. “The NFA should seriously consider the ramifications of its insistence on its authority to issue permits for the importation of rice. Are they now saying we have no obligation to honor major international trade agreements?” Salazar asked. “Maybe NFA Administrator Calayag would have a better appreciation of the intricacies of international trade if he convened the NFA Council more often and learned from its more experienced and learned members from the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and DoF (Department of Finance).” Salazar explained the NFA position was inconsistent with international agreements the country was party to. In a letter dated Sept. 10, 2013 to Calayag, Salazar stressed that “the issuance by NFA of an import permit is classified as discretionary import permit” and that such was considered “a form of Quantitative Import Restriction.” Salazar emphasized that with the expiration of the quantitative restrictions in June 2012, “the right of the Philippines, including the NFA, to impose Quantitative Restrictions (including issuance of NFA import permits) has already elapsed.” Quantitative restrictions allow member-countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to restrict the importation of sensitive agricultural products. The Philippines became a member of


the WTO in January 1995, and like all WTO member governments, agreed to improve market access and reduce trade-distorting subsidies and restrictions in agriculture. A “special treatment” provision in the WTO agreement, however, provides for restriction on imports of primary sensitive agricultural products subject to strict conditions. Based on the “special treatment” provision for rice granted by the WTO, the Philippines was allowed to impose quantitative restrictions on rice and was exempted from rice import liberalization from 1995 to 2005. In January 2004, the country requested an extension of the privilege and was allowed to continue imposing quantitative restrictions until June 2012. While government representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DA) have been tasked to obtain extensions of the privilege, they have twice been denied by the WTO. The fact that the country had repeatedly asked for an extension of the special treatment or quantitative restrictions, Salazar added, only proves that the government is aware that WTO approval was necessary before it could continue enforcing the restrictions. “DA/NFA will not expend so much effort and expense in trying to convince member-countries to agree to another extension if the former consider the the same to be unnecessary,” explained Salazar in his letter. http://www.tribune.net.ph/metro‐section/importers‐contest‐seizure‐of‐rice‐say‐nfa‐violating‐rules‐of‐ wto                        


BI: Calayag dual citizen By Sonny Alanguilan | Posted 11 hours ago | 2,024 views  ‘As such, he is barred from holding public office’

THE Bureau of Immigration on Tuesday confirmed that the administrator of the National Food Authority, Orlan Calayag, is both a Filipino and an American citizen under the country’s dual citizenship law.

Sworn to service. This official Malacañang photograph shows Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala inducting his former aide Orlan Calayag as administrator of the National Food Authority in January this year. Calayag’s appointment is now being questioned because of his dual Filipino and American citizenships. The bureau said Calayag remained a Filipino citizen by virtue of the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003, which states that all Filipinos nationals who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship. Bureau spokesperson Ma. Angelica Pedro said, however, that Filipinos holding dual citizenship cannot be appointed to public office unless they renounce their allegiance to their second country. “Any natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country can re-acquire Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Philippines,” Pedro said. The Palace on Tuesday denied antedating Calayag’s appointment, saying he had merely served “the unexpired term” of his predecessor at the NFA. “There was no antedating of his appointment. The text of the appointment only refers to the original term of office of Mr. [Angelito] Banayo, who Mr. Calayag was appointed to replace,” said Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma.


Asked if Mr. Aquino was aware of Calayag’s citizenship before he was appointed, Coloma said that all appointments go through a vetting and screening process before they reach to the President. “To provide context, there are hundreds of appointments being made that go to the Office of the President, and each one of those appointments goes through a vetting and screening process. So that is what was done in this case and in all other appointments,” Coloma said, without commenting on the legality of the appointment. He said there was an ongoing review to take into account Calayag’s citizenship and other allegations against him. Alcala defended Calayag but said he would ask him to resign if the allegations against him were proved true. “If they can give proof that these accusations are true, I will immediately ask him (Calayag) to resign. But as you see, everytime the NFA catches a rice smuggler, a lot of issues immediately arise,” Alcala said. Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo added his voice Tuesday to demands that Calayag resign for violating the law. Acedillo said it was undeniable that Calayag was a dual citizen and not a natural born citizen as required by the NFA charter. AKO-Bilol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe agreed, saying a US citizen had not business heading a vital government agency in charge of food security. Calayag holds other positions by virtue of his position at the NFA. He is also vice chairman of the NFA council, chairman of the Food Terminal, Inc., and a board member of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority. He became administrator in July 2012, even while his predecessor Angelito Banayo was still in office, and would not leave for another three months. “On the face of these serious allegations, maybe Administrator Calayag can spare the government and resign,” Acedillo told the Manila Standard, saying his continued stay in the NFA constituted a clear violation of the law. Acedillo also said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and the Palace, through the Presidential Management Staff, had many questions to answer. “The questions for the government to answer now are: 1) What should the government do with Administrator Calayag’s appointment at NFA, which on its face, violated the law; 2) What is Secretary Alcala’s liability in consummating the appointment of Calayag, his former chief of staff and chosen recommendee for the post?, and 3) What role, if any, did the PMS have in conducting search committee procedures for the NFA post, and subsequently the GCG


[Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations], in vetting Orlan Calayag?” But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. urged critics to take it slow in demanding that Alcala and Calayag resign. He said both officials deserved due process, and that calls for their resignation were not in order. He expressed doubts about Calayag’s dual citizenship, saying Alcala was not stupid. “He knows what he’s doing,” Belmonte added. Earlier, Abakada Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, Flores, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon, Gabriela Reps. Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus, and Anakbayan president Vencer Crisostomo all demanded that Alcala and Calayag resign. If they refused, the lawmakers said, President Benigno Aquino III should fire them both. Zarate said Alcala should stop evading the citizenship issue and answer the issues raised against Calayag, including his being a “ghost employee” collecting compensation for two years while he was already working in the United States. “Whether Calayag arrested smugglers is irrelevant to the question of citizenship being raised against him. If he is in fact a US citizen, he cannot serve government no matter how hard Malacanang tries to defend him,” Ridon said. Dela Cruz chided Alcala for missing the “single most important qualification” provided for by the law against a non-Filipino sitting in government. Under the dual citizenship act, Calayag reacquired his Philippine citizenship on Jan. 7, 2013 and took his oath of allegiance to the republic before the commissioner of Immigration. Calayag arrived in the Philippines on Korean Airlines Flight 623 on Dec. 19, 2012, using an American passport.Calayag had previously renounced his Philippine citizenship to become a citizen of the United States, thereby irrevocably losing his status as a natural born citizen of the Philippines, Dela Cruz said. “Calayag’s reacquisition of Philippine citizenship under RA 9225 dated Jan. 7, 2013 merely makes him a naturalized citizen,” he said. Calayag, Dela Cruz added, did not renounce his American citizenship but retained it under the dual citizenship act. “Calayag is both an American and a Filipino citizen. As an American citizen, he is not fit to sit in such a crucial government post as chief of an agency tasked to ensure national food security,” he said. Ilagan added: “We are afraid Calayag will be conflicted. What would be his decision in making crucial food security policies? Which citizenship will influence his decision?” With Sara Susanne Fabunan, Maricel V. Cruz, Christine F. Herrera and Anna Leah Estrada http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/30/bi‐calayag‐dual‐citizen/


Implement law to end farmers’ and consumers’ woes October 29, 2013 10:17 pm by EFREN L. DANAO INSIDE CONGRESS

Efren Danao Philippine economic growth will be enhanced if Republic Act 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act is fully implemented. The country should now allow agricultural products to enter the local market under a tariff scheme as contemplated by the law enacted way back in 1996. The law is meant to fulfill the country’s commitment to the World Trade Organization while providing a safety net for the agriculture sector. It avows as a state policy to make the country’s agricultural sector viable, efficient and globally competitive by adopting the use of tariffs instead of non-tariff import restrictions to protect local producers of agricultural products, except rice which will continue to have quantitative import restrictions. In other countries, farmers are rich. It’s non-debatable that such has been the lot of farmers in countries that have long opened their borders to international agricultural trade like Japan, China, South Korea, and Asean neighbors, Thailand, Malaysia, and even Vietnam. In the Philippines, agriculture is the poor man’s sector. This need not be so here. We have laws, like RA 8178, that seek to make agriculture viable, more efficient and more competitive. Unfortunately, the good intentions of the laws have been lost by the failure to fully implement them. Much has been said about the need to protect local agricultural products from foreign competition. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why some government officials are wary of implementing the law. Yet, protectionism has already been shown to make agricultural producers more conservative and less competitive because they are already assured of a ready market at prices they could dictate. Experts have repeatedly pointed out that a “protectionist policy environment” which continues to impose restrictions—real and disguised—in the importation of agricultural products have hurt the agricultural sector more than they have helped. Our sugar industry never modernized while we had the US quota with preferential price. Sugar barons were content with their outmoded means of production because they knew the United


States would buy their produce at a price higher than the world market. When the quota ended, our sugar producers found they could not compete with those from other countries with more efficient and cheaper production technology. While the producers lost because of their lack of innovative ideas, Filipino consumers won because they could buy imported sugar at a lower price. Dr. Roehlano Briones, in a 2013 discussion paper entitled “Philippine Agriculture to 2020: Threats and Opportunities from Global Trade,” concluded that the strategy of curtailing imports resulted in substantial price increases for most agricultural products presenting “a substantial burden to the poor.” Instead, he pushed for “ more liberal trade policies (lowering of tariffs and non-tariff barriers) as well as directing expenditure support on a more neutral basis, i.e. greater outlays towards products with lower support, which typically are the export-oriented commodities (i.e. products for which the Philippines has comparative advantage).” Briones, a UP-trained economist and writing for the government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), maintains that embracing international trade allows investment to be “re-allocated towards export-oriented commodities to accelerate productivity growth in the medium-term, while tariff and non-tariff barriers are reduced.” “Here, consumers benefit through food affordability for most agricultural products while allowing for competitiveness in other export-oriented commodities: banana, aquaculture products, and even coconut,” he adds. Briones believes that farmers provided alternatives are most likely to transition from growing crops that are not profitable to crops that can bring them more income. He cites rice farmers who only earn an average of P16,251 per hectare per cropping, as opposed to farmers who grow onion bulbs that can earn an average of P302,070 per hectare per cropping. It’s doubly lamentable that despite the low income of Filipino rice farmers, our rice sometimes costs twice more than imported rice, according to the National Economic and Development Authority. It’s doubly lamentable that despite the low income of Filipino rice farmers, our rice sometimes costs twice more than imported rice, according to the National Economic and Development Authority . The local production of rice has not helped lower prices; even the National Food Authority has admitted that transporting palay from the provinces to Metro Manila adds as much as P1 per kilo to the price of rice. Another possible reason why RA 8178 has not been fully implemented is that some schemers sees it as nothing more than a tool for corruption, As it is, despite RA 8178, virtual monopolies in the importation of agricultural products continue to exist. Whether wittingly or unwittingly, undue regulation, in the form of restrictions outside of what the law provides, has allowed certain quarters to grant “special favors” to a select few. This is the kind of perversion of the Agricultural Tariffication Act that we must all guard against. efrendanao2003@yahoo.com http://manilatimes.net/implement‐law‐to‐end‐farmers‐and‐consumers‐woes/48967/


Appointment of NFA chief under review by Madel Sabater ‐ Namit  October 29, 2013 (updated)  

Malacanang on Tuesday said there is an ongoing review and verification process on the appointment of National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Orlan Agnib Calayag. Calayag is currently being criticized due to his allegedly American citizenship. “There is an ongoing review and verification process to address other issues pertinent to this appointment,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a press briefing. Coloma however stressed that all Presidential appointees go through a screening process before being appointed. “There are hundreds of appointments being made that go to the Office of the President, and each one of those appointments goes through a vetting and screening process. So that is what was done in this case and in all other appointments,” he said. The Palace official said Calayag was first appointed on January 17, 2013, to serve the unexpired term of then NFA administrator Angelito Banayo, who resigned from his post to run for Congress in Agusan del Norte during the May 2013 elections. Banayo’s term ended on June 30, 2013. “There was no antedating of his appointment. The text of the appointment only refers to the original term of office of Mr. Banayo, who Mr. Calayag was appointed to replace,” Coloma said. “This means his appointment covers only the unexpired term of Banayo, beginning from the date of appointment, 17 January to June 2013. He was reappointed on 12 July 2013. All of these are in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011,” he said. Calayag is a former chief of staff of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala when the latter was still a Congressman of Quezon province. The NFA administrator is a licensed mortgage consultant at the Metropolitan Mortgage group in Washington, USA, and was a loan officer and consultant of the Bank of America. http://www.mb.com.ph/appointment-of-nfa-chief-being-reviewed/


PHL economy to sustain growth in Q4 Category: Top News 29 Oct 2013 Written by Cai U. Ordinario The Philippine economy will likely sustain its high growth in the fourth quarter, according to the latest composite leading economic indicator (LEI) reported by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) on Tuesday. The NSCB said forecasts for the fourth quarter of 2013 are encouraging, with the composite LEI index improving to 0.181 from a revised 0.046 in the third quarter of 2013. The positive LEI index indicates that the recent growth track of the Philippine economy may be sustained until the end of the year. “The composite leading economic indicator continued its upward streak in the fourth quarter of 2013, signifying that the economy may be expected to sustain its upward direction during this quarter,” the NSCB said. “This acceleration indicates the continued satisfactory performance of the country’s economy until the end of the year.” The NSCB said on Tuesday that the rosy picture painted by the LEI for the fourth quarter was largely due to improvements in eight of the 11 indicators that make up the composite LEI. The positive contributors to the LEI were money supply, wholesale price index, total merchandise imports, hotel occupancy rate, terms of trade index, electric energy consumption, number of new businesses and stock price index. “The combined share of positive contributors for this quarter accounted for 77.6 percent of the total contribution, a decrease of about 5 percentage points from 82.4 percent in the third quarter 2013,” the NSCB said. The drag to the LEI for the fourth quarter, on the other hand, were the foreign-exchange rate, visitor arrivals and consumer price index. The NSCB said these negative contributors accounted for 22.4 percent of the total contribution. The NSCB noted that for the fourth quarter LEI, two indicators shifted direction in contribution from the third quarter of 2013. These were visitor arrivals from positive to negative, and wholesale price index from negative to positive. The Leading Economic Indicator System was developed jointly by the NSCB and the National Economic and Development Authority to serve as basis for short-term forecasting of the macroeconomic activity in the country. The NSCB has since been compiling data for the 11 identified leading economic indicators and generating the Composite Leading Economic Indicator on a quarterly basis. The LEI, by definition of the NSCB, tracks the behavior of indicators that consistently move upward or downward before the actual expansion or contraction of overall economic activity. The system is based on an empirical observation that the cycles of many economic data series are related to the cycles of total business activity. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top-news/21976-phl-economy-to-sustain-growth-in-q4


Pulse survey shows dip in public approval of government fight vs corruption Category: Nation 29 Oct 2013 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez PUBLIC approval of the government’s fight against graft and corruption fell by 12 percentage points in September compared to March, the results of the latest Pulse Asia Inc. survey showed. The results of the survey, conducted from September 14 to 27 when discussions on the porkbarrel scam was at its peak, also showed the Aquino administration earning majority public approval in only two of 10 national issues cited in the survey—fighting criminality and fair enforcement of the law. “Amidst the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] controversy, appreciation for the Aquino administration’s anti-corruption initiatives eases between March and September 2013 [12 percentage points], while criticism for the same becomes more marked [+16 percentage points],” Ana Maria Tabunda, Pulse Asia research director, said. Tabunda said the Aquino administration managed to secure majority approval scores on fighting criminality, 60 percent in September from 63 percent in March; and fair enforcement of the law, 54 percent from 58 percent. She said “approval is the plurality sentiment toward the work done by the Aquino administration” on other issues such as on the issues of low workers’ pay (43 percent), employment (45 percent), peace (46 percent), corruption (47 percent) and environment (50 percent). “Almost the same approval and indecision ratings are obtained by the national administration on the issues of population growth [41 percent versus 39 percent] and poverty [39 percent versus 34 percent], while public opinion regarding its efforts to control inflation is split [34 percent approval, 34 percent indecision and 32 percent disapproval],” she said. Tabunda said the government obtained “significantly” increased public disapproval on its performance on employment, low pay of workers, rapid population growth and inflation, each by 7 percentage points. Public disapproval on government performance in increasing peace in the country grew by 12 percentage points. “It may be recalled that while the interviews for this survey were being conducted, the Zamboanga City siege by an armed faction of the Moro National Liberal Front was unfolding,” Tabunda said.


The Pulse Asia official said Filipinos are most concerned about corruption, inflation, low pay of workers and employment, and that “public concern as regards peace and corruption becomes more pronounced between June and September 2013.” She said the survey results showed that Filipinos are least concerned about rapid population growth. During the survey period, among the major developments were the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds of some lawmakers in connivance with bogus nongovernment organizations and other public officials and the Zamboanga City siege. The nationwide survey, conducted on 1,200 representative adults, has a ± 3 percent error margin at the 95-percent confidence level, while subnational estimates for each of the geographic areas covered in the survey have a ± 6 percent error margin, also at 95-percent confidence level. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/nation/21955-pulse-survey-shows-dip-inpublic-approval-of-government-fight-vs-corruption


Senator proposes creation of local microfinance code Category: Economy 29 Oct 2013 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez SEN. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV is proposing the creation of the Microfinance Code of the Philippines to help turn the microfinance sector into an effective tool for poverty alleviation by setting standards and providing incentives for qualified microfinance institutions (MFIs). In filing Senate Bill (SB) 1832, or the Microfinance Code of the Philippines, Aquino said the government has yet to recognize the microfinance sector as an “integral partner in poverty alleviation.” He said according to the Department of Trade and Industry that as of 2011, 99.6 percent of businesses in the country were classified as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and of this total, 91 percent were microenterprises. “This measure seeks to define the rights and responsibilities, institute performance management and standards, and provide an accreditation process for MFIs. It also seeks to provide an enabling policy environment for MFIs through appropriate incentives and support,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce. He said the Microfinance Code of the Philippines seeks to promote “a social reform strategy that will empower the poor, aid them in managing financial risks, and, in doing so, expand access to microfinance services, such as: microcredit, microsavings, health care, and others.” “This Act also opens up access to a broad range of financial, business and other human development services. The ultimate goal of the Microfinance Code of the Philippines is to lift people out of poverty and enable them to live more productive, self-sufficient lives,” Aquino said. SB 1832 proposes the creation of the Microfinance Regulatory Council to be composed by a 15member board of directors. The council will provide a national policy and strategy for microfinance practice in the country, maintain a national registry of microfinance institutions, institutionalize and operationalize an accreditation system for microfinance institutions, among its other functions. Under the proposed measure, a non-stock, non-profit organization and/or non-governmental organization (NGO), in accordance with the provisions of the Corp. Code of the Philippines, and the Microfinance Code, may operate as a microfinance institution. Among the rights and responsibilities of microfinance NGOs is to engage in direct lending to microfinance borrowers, charge “reasonable” interest and collect fees and charges for its operations, and borrow money for relending to microfinance borrowers, subject to existing laws.


The microfinance NGOs can accept donations, grants or contributions in accordance with existing laws and regulations; invest funds in any “sound, non-speculative” enterprises and instruments, subject to rules and regulations of the relevant regulator; and maintain a transparent and comprehensive management information system. The microfinance NGOs are required to publish and disclose audited accounts at the end of every fiscal year, submit regular reports to the Microfinance Regulatory Council, and can engage in other microfinance-related activities, subject to rules and regulations of concerned bodies. Under the proposed measure, only accredited microfinance NGOs can engage in microfinance in the country. SB 1832 also sets performance management and standards and the minimum core programs and services of MFIs, including microcredit and financial literacy programs, and microcredit and capital build-up or microsavings. MFIs may also undertake agricultural microfinance, housing microfinance, microinsurance, mobile or any innovative channels, money transfer and other related remittance service, and other innovative programs, products and services that are in line with existing laws and regulations. Incentives to be provided to duly accredited MFIs include access to special credit windows, access to technical assistance, exemption from value-added tax and documentary stamp tax of transactions of MFIs—limited to microfinance—with its clients, and the full deduction of donations to MFIs from the gross income of the donor. Under the proposed measure, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, in consultation with the Microfinance Regulatory Council, shall issue a circular detailing the standards, guidelines, rules and regulations of a tax amnesty program for MFIs. Its penal provisions include a fine of P10,000 to P50,000, and imprisonment of six months to six years or both on unauthorized microfinance institutions, and violators of the proposed Act. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/21963-senator-proposescreation-of-local-microfinance-code


91% of barangay winners proclaimed By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 30, 2013 ‐ 12:00am    

Poll watchers join the canvassing of votes in Barangay San Sebastian, Hagonoy, Bulacan Monday night.  DINO BALABO             

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is moving fast to proclaim the winners in Monday’s barangay elections with 91.49 percent of the 42,028 barangays nationwide already completed. “We promised that this will be a fast-moving proclamation. Within 24 hours after end of the voting... so we expect to finish this all (today),” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in a press briefing yesterday. In a Twitter posting, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said winners in 38,452 barangays, out of the total 42,028, had been proclaimed as of 5 p.m. yesterday. Teopisto Elnas, director of the Comelec’s Elections and Barangay Affairs Department, said polls still have to be held in 98 barangays in Zamboanga City and 1,109 barangays in Bohol province on Nov. 25.


Comelec was forced to postpone the village elections in Zamboanga City in the aftermath of the destruction caused by the three-week gun battle between government forces and the Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front. Most villages in Bohol, on the other hand, were in ruin following the Oct. 15 earthquake that left some 200 people dead and thousands homeless. The polls were also postponed in 97 barangays across the country, mostly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) after teachers comprising the Board of Election Tellers (BET) refused to serve. Meanwhile, the elections in 51 barangays in Lanao del Sur pushed through yesterday with policemen acting as BETs. Brillantes said the police personnel have been trained to administer elections due to the threats of teachers not to serve in the polls. “We had the teachers replaced so we were able to hold the elections in Lanao del Sur,� he said. The Comelec had postponed the polls in 43 other barangays across the country primarily after the teachers failed to report to their assigned polling precincts for fear of their lives. Comelec said 12 of the barangays are in Pikit, North Cotabato; three in Samar; three in Maguindanao; six in Basilan; and two in Tawi-Tawi. The elections in 12 barangays in Calayan Island were also reset because of failure to deliver the election paraphernalia there due to bad weather. Brillantes added the Comelec would be meeting to discuss when they could hold the elections in these areas. Comelec is also set to conduct elections today in 26 barangays nationwide. Comelec Deputy Executive Director for Operations Bartolome Sinocruz said most of them are barangays in Samar where the elections were postponed because of violence. The others are the seven barangays in Calayan Island, Cagayan; one in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte; six in Akbar, Ungkaya Pukan, and Tabuan Lasa in Basilan; and 12 in Buldon, Liong, and Parang in Maguindanao. The Comelec, on the other hand, will hold elections in five other barangays in Calayan Island tomorrow. Sinocruz added that the Comelec is eyeing to hold the elections in 12 barangays in Pikit, North Cotabato on Nov. 8. The polling precincts did not function after the teachers refused to serve as BETs, citing security concerns.


Ineligible winners The proclamation of some 62 winning candidates for barangay posts, however, will have to be delayed due to questions on their eligibility. Some would not assume office as they were found to be already on their third and final term of incumbency, according to the Comelec. This brings to almost 500 the number of candidates who could have won, except those whose proclamation was suspended by the Comelec because of eligibility questions. Brillantes said these bets have questionable qualifications so the poll body had notified the Comelec offices covering them to suspend their proclamation. Brillantes said the 62 bets are all incumbent barangay leaders already on their third and final term but who still filed a certificate of candidacy for similar posts. He said the Comelec would be studying the possibility of filing election offense charges against them. Apart from the 62 bets, the Comelec had also ordered the suspension of proclamation of more than 300 candidates who were found to be not registered voters or whose voter’s registration was deactivated. Eight other candidates have pending petitions seeking to declare them as nuisance bets while four others are convicted of criminal offense. Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said the suspension order was done on their own initiative to avoid further complications in case these bets have been proclaimed and will eventually be found not qualified. “Once they are proclaimed, we will lose jurisdiction on the cases. These will now be in form of election protests, which will take a longer time to resolve... This is our precautionary move pending the hearing on the merits of their actual statuses,” Lim said. The Comelec is hoping to resolve the pending cases of these bets before Nov. 30 when the term of office of incumbent officials ends. “If proven as disqualified candidate, the one with the highest number of votes outside of that candidate will be proclaimed the winner,” Lim said. The Comelec in Negros Occidental said charges are being prepared against several candidates and their supporters for various election-related offenses like premature campaigning and on complaints of flying voters.


There were no problems in Pangasinan, however, as all of the winners in the 1,364 barangays in the province had been proclaimed. At least 146 of them ran unopposed in Monday’s elections. Two candidates in a barangay in Pangasinan had to resort in a toss coin to break the tie. “One of the candidates had refused to have it settled through toss coin but he cannot do anything about it. That’s the policy in breaking ties,” Sinocruz added. Comelec also said all the winners in the Calabarzon region had been proclaimed. “Almost 98 percent of the winners for barangay captains’ race in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon were immediately proclaimed by Comelec officials,” Comelec regional director Juanito Icarro said. Hard to prove Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II also told a news briefing at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame that he had ordered the investigation of reports of vote buying in some areas of the country during the elections. Roxas said the PNP is coordinating with the Comelec in the investigation of these reports. Roxas though admitted the difficulty of probing reports of vote buying without any complaints. “It’s really difficult to investigate,” he said. “Let’s remember that vote-buying is done secretly so we need tips where these vote-buying activities are being done so we can act and respond.” Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas Jr. said the PNP had received seven reports of votebuying: two from Region 12; two in Metro Manila; and one each from Regions 1, 3 and 4. Candidates reportedly used everything from sachets of 3-in-1 coffee and noodles to cash payments of between P10 and P2,000 per voter to buy votes, according to reports. Roxas said evidence from witnesses was important in resolving any alleged cases of vote buying. “Without any witness the police can’t just enter a house. In the end the police might face charges,” he said. “There may be a number of vote buying (cases), but the problem is we can’t get evidence. The person giving the money and the person who received the money will not file a complaint.” Brillantes, for his part, doubted the reports of rampant vote buying during the elections. He said the media could have exaggerated the incidents.


He said scenarios of vote buying could have only been peddled by losing candidates. “Our analysis is that there are many vote-buying (allegations) because many have lost in the elections... the source of the news (reports) are actually mostly (from) losing candidates who, they themselves, may have conducted vote buying but their rivals are richer,” he said. Brillantes said public vigilance is vital in putting a stop to the practice of vote buying in the country. “Vote buying is actually a very sensitive act and you need evidence to prove it. Mere hearsay won’t... they have to file a case, show evidence and execute an affidavit,” he said. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Jonathan Carson, Eva Visperas, Ed Amoroso, Danny Dangcalan http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/10/30/1250958/91-barangay-winners-proclaimed


Be focused on goals, Pinoys urged By Aurea Calica (The  Philippine Star) | Updated  October 30, 2013 ‐  12:00am   

MANILA, Philippines Saying the Philippines has a bright future, President Aquino yesterday called on the people to keep focused and united on their goals. Aquino asked government officials to continue living up to and fulfilling the mandate given by their “bosses.” He said they would have to work hard in uplifting the people from poverty, lead them to stand up and give them strength to invest for a good future. “Abot-kamay na natin ang ating kolektibong mithiin, huwag po tayong bibitiw sa ating pagkakapit-bisig (Our collective goals are now within reach, let us not let go of our linked arms),” Aquino said during the 2nd National Technical Vocational Education and Training Congress. “God helps those who help themselves. That’s what we are trying to do now, let us do what is right so we will reap something better in the future,” he said. “Now that we keep on moving up, we will not get lost,” he added. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/10/30/1250965/be-focused-goals-pinoys-urged

 


Vinta moves closer to Phl By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 30, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Public storm warning signal No. 1 was hoisted over the provinces of Aurora and Isabela yesterday as Tropical Depression Vinta moved closer to the country. As of 4 p.m. yesterday, Vinta was positioned at 820 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). It is moving in the direction of the Isabela-Aurora area. Vinta has maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center. It is forecast to move west at a speed of 26 kph. The estimated volume of rainfall is moderate to heavy or from 5 to 15 millimeters per hour within the 300-kilometer diameter of Vinta. PAGASA forecaster Glaiza Escullar said the tropical depression was expected to make landfall tomorrow morning.


“The projection is that its initial entry would be in Isabela... If it would make landfall in Northern Luzon it might not affect Metro Manila, but if it changes direction and makes landfall in Central Luzon, then Metro Manila might be affected,” she said. Vinta might intensify into a storm because it was still in the Pacific Ocean where it could gather strength, Escullar said. It is expected to exit on Friday through Sinait, Ilocos Sur. PAGASA was already monitoring Vinta when it was a low-pressure area last Sunday. In its 24-hour weather forecast at 5 p.m. yesterday, PAGASA said Central and Eastern Visayas and Mindanao would have cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/10/30/1250961/vinta‐moves‐closer‐phl                                


PH business climate improves – World Bank by Chino Leyco  October 30, 2013  

Manila, Philippines – Business environment in the Philippines significantly improved this year following a series of reform measures implemented by the government, pulling the country’s standing 30 notches higher to 108th, according to the latest World Bank survey on the Ease of Doing Business. The Washington-based lender noted that the Philippines is among the Asian economies that registered the biggest gains in terms of enhancing its “business environment.” The annual WB survey on the ease of doing business in 189 economies worldwide, examines 10 government rules – obtaining permits to start up a business, access to credit, trading across borders, tax system as well as insolvency procedures. WB noted that the Philippines’ instituted regulatory reforms in key areas – resolving insolvency, online filing of taxes – helped improve the country’s ranking to 108th from 138th spot in 2012. This signals that the gap between the developed nations and the Philippines is narrowing as it improves regulations to foster entrepreneurship and trade. Without going to specifics, the Philippines would have ranked 133rd in 2012 survey but WB apparently “overlooked” some of the reform measures implemented. The Philippines is joined by nine other economies, namely: Ukraine, Rwanda, the Russian Federation, Kosovo, Djibouti, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Guatemala that saw significant gains in this year’s ranking. Singapore remains the most business-friendly economy, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand, the US, Denmark, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Georgia, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Among its regional peers, the Philippines still runs behind its Southeast Asian neighbors Malaysia (6), Thailand (18), Brunei (59), and Vietnam 99). However, its standing is better than Indonesia (120) and Cambodia (137). The World Bank, meanwhile, noted that the primary hindrance for entrepreneurs in the Philippines is the government’s start-up regulation, which requires 15 permits that would take up to 35 days before business can start actual operation. http://www.mb.com.ph/ph‐business‐climate‐improves‐world‐bank/


500 bets face disqualification Drawing Of Lots Settles Tie In Surigao Del Norte Elections by Leslie Ann Aquino  October 30, 2013  

Manila, Philippines – More or less 500 candidates in Monday’s barangay elections are facing disqualification on various offenses, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said these candidates either failed to register as voters in the areas where they ran, have overstayed, or are nuisance candidates. He said the poll body is suspending over 400 candidates who had failed to register as voters, 62 who were found to be serving on their third term, and many who have been dismissed with finality by the Office of the Ombudsman. But the poll body is looking to resolve these cases before November 30. “Ang pinaka-marami dito yung not registered which is over 400… ung susunod ay third termers which is 62, tapos yung may final dismissal by the Ombudsman sinuspend din namin,” Brillantes said. “More or less they are about 500,” he added. Commissioner Christian Lim said the Comelec’s decision was done motu proprio or on their own initiative in order to avoid having cases of nuisance candidates, overstaying officials, and unregistered bets being proclaimed. “These are motu propio, meaning the Comelec initiated the cases. Precautionary yun, e, baka kasi ma-proclaim kapag na proclaim yan mawawalan kami ng jurisdiction,” he said. Brillantes said that if these candidates are proven to be qualified, they will immediately order the proclamation of the winning candidates. But if proven disqualified, Lim said, the one with the highest number of votes outside of that candidate will be proclaimed the winner. The Comelec had earlier said that eight candidates are facing petitions to be declared as nuisance while four candidates have been found to have been convicted of a criminal offense, including those by the Office of the Ombudsman. As the Comelec deals with candidates facing various offenses, it has already proclaimed winning candidates in more than 30,000 barangays. Comelec Director for Elections and Barangay Affairs Department Teofisto Elnas said out of the 42,028 barangays, 30,970 have already proclaimed the winners.


Brillantes said the Comelec expects to finish all proclamations by Wednesday, except in areas where the elections are still ongoing. Drawing Of Lots In Surigao del Norte, candidates who garnered the same number of votes in the October 28 barangay elections agreed to settle the tie through drawing of lots before the board of election tellers (BET) and their respective followers.Comelec Region XIII Director Francisco Pobe said these two incidents happened in Barangay Sta. Cruz in San Benito town, Siargao Island; and Barangay Sto. Niño in San Isidro town. Incumbent Barangay Councilman Joseph Tagoctoc and neophyte Merilou Hermoso garnered the same number of 194 votes from Precincts 1-A and 1-B of Barangay Sta. Cruz in San Benito town. “The two candidates agreed to drawing of lots to settle the problem, where candidate Joseph Tagoctoc won as the new Barangay Chairman,” said Director Pobe. In Barangay Sto. Niño, San Isidro town, incumbent Chairman Danilo Sanico and Circulano Cacayan also got the same 185 votes. The two candidates for Barangay Chairman agreed to draw lot to settle the problem, but incumbent Barangay Chairman Sanico lost, said Pobe. Sanico said he was hurt by the result of drawing of lots, can’t do otherwise because both agreed on the procedure, said Pobe, quoting the report from his ground election supervisor. Still In Captivity Meanwhile, three candidates who ran for barangay councilmen are still under the hands of their hostage-takers in the forested mountain in Sabud, Loreto town, Agusan del Sur. Loreto Mayor Dario E. Otaza identified them as Barangay Kagawads Balaba I. Andalique, Marvin S. Bantuasan and Crisanto M. Piodos. Barangay Sabud Chairman Lito I. Andalique, who ran unopposed, is also held captive with the three winning kagawad, Otaza said. Vote Buying In Bamban, Tarlac, a woman who filed her certificate of candidacy for barangay councilman will face charges for alleged vote-buying activities in Baranay San Vicente prior to the election. Police report revealed that the informants reported the activity of suspect Clarita Villabrille, who allegedly gave P3,000, P1,000, and P1,500 to different persons on October 24 and October 25 in exchange for their votes. Villabrille is also a known supporter of barangay chairman candidate Ramiro Adrias. (With reports from Mike U. Crismundo and Mar T. Supnad) http://www.mb.com.ph/500‐bets‐face‐disqualification/


Binay wants elder, PWD‐friendly 2016 elections by Jc Bello Ruiz  October 29, 2013 (updated)  

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay wants all polling precincts to be elder and persons with disabilities (PWD)-friendly by 2016 presidential elections. Binay said this Tuesday due to the alleged failure of the Commission on Eelections to provide special precincts for all senior citizens and PWDs during last Monday’s barangay elections. “We have to make sure that by 2016, our senior citizens and PWDs are encouraged to vote, and they are able to do so in a manner that will cause them as little stress as possible,” said the Vice President, who utilized the special lane for senior citizens and PWDs at the San Antonio National High School in Brgy. San Antonio, Makati when he voted last Monday. Binay, who has been vocal about his plans to seek the presidency in 2016 has been an advocate of the rights of the elderly even during his time as mayor of Makati City providing additional benefits for senior citizens. As Vice President, he allotted part of his P200 million annual Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for the construction and repair of senior citizen centers all over the country. He recalled the experiences of senior citizens and PWDs during the midterm elections in May, which he said led to the low voter turn-out from the sector. “Last election, many senior citizens and PWDs were unable to vote because in some cases the precincts were located in the fourth floor,” Binay said in a statement. “Children of senior citizens who had finished voting would dissuade their parents, saying the conditions were unbearable considering their fragile health,” he added. Binay earlier criticized the Comelec as National Council on Disability Affairs executive director Carmen Zubiaga’s claimed that only two out of the 36,778 polling centers in the country were designated as pilot Accessible Polling Places for PWDs and the elderly. He, however, expressed hope that the policy of setting up special precincts for the elderly and PWDs will soon be implemented in all polling areas. “At least now you can read in the papers that some areas already have special precincts,” he said. He noted that senior citizens in Barangay San Antonio in Makati, where he resides, are now more willing to vote because of a special precinct for them. “Now that a special precinct has been set aside for them, they are more eager to participate in the elections,” said Binay. Meanwhile, Binay commended the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) and other volunteers who were on hand during the elections to help senior citizens and PWDs. Binay is the national president of the BSP. http://www.mb.com.ph/binay‐wants‐elder‐pwd‐friendly‐2016‐elections/


Gov’t rating in fight vs graft down – poll By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 30, 2013 ‐ 12:00am  

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration experienced a 12-point decline in its rating on the issue of fighting graft and corruption in the third quarter survey of Pulse Asia amid the pork barrel scam. Pulse Asia’s Ulat ng Bayan survey, conducted from Sept. 14 to 27, showed that Filipinos’ appreciation for the administration’s anti-corruption initiatives went down from 59 percent in March to 47 percent in September. The government’s scores also declined on the issues of fighting criminality (from 63 to 60 percent); enforcing the law to all, whether influential or ordinary people (from 58 to 54 percent), and stopping the destruction and abuse of the environment (from 51 to 50 percent). Its ratings on the following issues also dropped: increasing peace in the country (from 52 to 46 percent); creating more jobs (from 50 to 45 percent); improving/increasing the pay of workers (from 45 to 43 percent); controlling fast population growth (from 44 to 41 percent), and controlling inflation (from 39 to 34 percent). The government’s rating of the issue of reducing poverty, however, remained at 39 percent. Pulse Asia’s nationwide survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 representative adults aged 18 and above. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/10/30/1250960/govt‐rating‐fight‐vs‐graft‐down‐poll 


CCTVs in all commercial, gov’t buildings sought by Ellson Quismorio  October 29, 2013  

A bill which will make the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras mandatory in all commercial establishments and government offices has been pushed by two Mindanao lawmakers in the House of Representatives. House Bill 2449 or “CCTV Act of 2013″ was filed by siblings Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of 2nd District of Cagayan de Oro City and Rep. Maximo Rodriguez of Abante Mindanao partylist. The authors of the proposal said the installation of CCTV cameras will not only prevent crimes but could also help in solving crimes. CDO Rep. Rodriguez cited the crime data gathered by the Philippine National Police (PNP) which showed that there were 230,817 recorded crime incidents from January to November 2011. “While the number is lower compared to previous years like in 2009 when 333,416 crime incidents were reported, the figure is still very high. One way to lower this high crime rate is to provide deterrents, which would make criminals think twice and reconsider. One very effective form of deterrent is the installation of CCTV cameras,” Rodriguez said. Meanwhile, the party-list lawmaker said PNP data revealed that for 2011, physical assault and theft were the two largest contributors to the total number of crime incidents. Rodriguez noted how news reports and articles usually detail how a CCTV is able to catch footage of a particular crime, be it a robbery or a case of physical injury. Thus, he said it is time that CCTV cameras become a mandatory requirement for different establishments all over the country. House Bill 2449 provides that business establishments which include, but are not limited, to restaurants, hospitals, malls, shopping centers, movie houses, supermarkets, groceries, entertainment centers, office buildings, warehouses and other similar establishments and all government offices and buildings shall be mandated to install CCTV cameras. According to the bill, the installation of CCTV cameras shall be declared as a mandatory requirement prior to the issuance of business permit or permits. It also mandates all business establishments employing more than 20 employees or workers and with work premises of not less than 50 meters in the country shall install and maintain, in good working condition, high quality surveillance or CCTV cameras in all their entrances and exits within the premises of their work area, the perimeter of their work areas or establishments, and other areas of their business to protect their patrons and deter crime.


These establishments shall also be mandated to ensure that the CCTV cameras are turned on and recording for 24 hours per day for seven days per week. They shall also keep a deposit of video recordings for a period of not less than 60 days from the date of recording. The measure provides the fact that surveillance cameras have been installed in an establishment shall be made known to the general public through a written notice displayed at the entrance of the establishment. It prohibits the installation of CCTV cameras in any restroom, toilet, shower, bathroom or changing room, and other similar areas. The owner or manager of commercial establishments shall maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the video feeds and records obtained as a result of the surveillance performed in accordance with the proposed Act. Hence, the owner or manager shall prohibit any use, viewing, disclosure or publication of such video recordings. The bill allows the following: use, copying or disclosure to a member or office of a law enforcement agency in connection with and limited to the probe or prosecution of an offense punishable by law or regulation; use, copying or disclosure to further and in any connection with any pending criminal or civil proceeding; use or disclosure that may be necessary to avoid imminent threat to persons or property; or use or disclosure that may be necessary for persons to determine whether or not an offense was committed against their person or property to ascertain the identity of a criminal perpetrator, and to determine the manner by which an offense was consummated. The bill provides that a fine of P1,000 and suspension of the permit to operate or business permit shall punish any person or establishment violating the Act until CCTV cameras are installed. For government offices, non-installation of CCTVs shall be considered as nonfeasance hence, they shall be subject to the proper penalties provided for in appropriate laws. http://www.mb.com.ph/cctvs‐in‐all‐commercial‐govt‐buildings‐sought/            


High levels of Mercury found in 12 whitening creams by Jonathan M. Hicap  October 29, 2013  

An environmental watchdog has found high levels of mercury of up to 45,100 parts per million in 12 skin whitening creams sold in Metro Manila. The whitening creams, purchased by EcoWaste Coalition from stores in Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz in Manila and Cubao, Quezon City, contained mercury above the allowed limit of only 1ppm under the ASEAN Cosmetics Drive. “We conducted the test buys ahead of the Halloween to call attention to the frightening effects of mercury exposure through cosmetics, which are real and not just a figment of imagination,” EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen Lucero said. The purchased products were tested by EcoWaste using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer. Here’s the list of the products with high levels of Mercury: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Yudantang Sheep Essence & Ginseng & Green Cucumber 10 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle  Spot & Double Whitening Sun Block Cream (45,100 ppm)  Beauty Girl Egg White & Tomato 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream (41,700  ppm)  Erna Whitening Cream (9,853 ppm)  Bai Li Tou Hong (4,689 ppm)  Youngrace Age Defying Essence (4,087 ppm)  S’Zitang (4,019 ppm)  Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set (3,870 ppm)  Beauty Gemli Freckles Cream (3,271ppm)  Jiaoli 10 Days Eliminating Frecke Day & Night Set (2,549 ppm)  S’Zitang 7 Days Specific Whitening & Spot AB Set (2,507 ppm)  Jiaoli Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream (1,597 ppm)  Sanli Eliminating FreckleCream (1,305 ppm) 

EcoWaste said Erna, Gemli , Sanli and Jiaoli Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream were among the 11 mercury-laced skin whitening creams it reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).The FDA banned Jiaoli 7 Days, Jiaoli 10 Days, S’zitang and Youngrace in 2010, Beauty Girl in 2011, Bai Li Tou Hong in 2012 and Yudantang in 2013. “None of these imported products are listed in the FDA’s list of notified cosmetics and may be deemed illegal imports,” EcoWaste said. “These mercury-laden products are truly scary in the real sense of the word. Instead of the promised lighter and flawless skin, these products may in fact discolor and scar the skin, cause rashes and weaken dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections,” Lucero said. http://www.mb.com.ph/high‐levels‐of‐mercury‐found‐in‐12‐whitening‐creams/


Jinggoy meets lawyers on passport issue By Christina Mendez (philstar.com) | Updated October 29, 2013 ‐ 5:11pm 

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said Tuesday that his lawyers are already preparing his defense against the the Department of Justice's (DOJ) recommendation to cancel his passport. Estrada said that the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) letter asking him to reply to the DOJ's recommendation was sent to his residence on Monday, or during the Barangay Elections, which is a holiday. “We will seek an extension for time to reply because there petition is 10 pages. Five days it too short for us to prepare our legal defense. So we will ask for an extention,” Estrada said after meeting with his defense team on Tuesday afternoon. Estrada said he is leaving it to his lawyers to build up a good defense to justify why his passport should not be cancelled. “I will leave it to my lawyers to reply,” he added. Estrada added that he has spoken with Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. about the issue. He said that his two fellow senators also believe that the DOJ's request to cancel their passports has no legal basis. The three senators are facing plunder charges over the pork barrel fund scam, along with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and more than 30 others. In an earlier interview, Estrada assured his supporters and critics that he will return to the country before the Congress resumes its session on November 18. The senator is leaving for the United States this week to accompany his wife, Precy, in seeking a second opinion on the latter's lump and cysts on the breast. Estrada confirmed that he talked with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima over the phone last Friday and informed the secretary of his trip to the US. “I just informed her that I have already scheduled this trip before [the recommendation] came up,” Estrada said. Revilla’s lawyer, Joel Bodegon, has said that the DOJ’s move was ridiculous, adding that his client’s rights are protected under the Constitution.


He referred to the 1987 Constitution that has specific provision governing the limitation on the right to travel in Article III, Section 6 of the Constitution. Bodegon also cited Republic Act 8239 or The Philippine Passport Act of 1996 which provides that a passport may be cancelled only on three grounds: the holder is a fugitive from justice; the holder has been convicted of a criminal offense; or the passport was acquired fraudulently or tampered with. Citing political persecution, Revilla doubts whether he can get justice and fairness under the present administration. “The way things are going, I don’t think we can expect fairness. If the Constitution and human rights are set aside, how else can we attain justice?" Revilla said in a statement. “It looks like this administration is hell bent on decapitating the opposition at all costs – even if it tramples upon our basic rights enshrined in no less than the Constitution,” he added. Revilla noted that De Lima “is just more than willing to disrespect the law to pursue her own agenda.” “What is ironic is that she used to be the Chair of the Commission on Human Rights but it seems that to her, basic Human Rights is something that can be utterly disregarded,” the senator said. Revilla said he also finds it absurd to “unilaterally label incumbent senators who just so happens to belong to opposition, as threats to national security.” “This is a cause for alarm,” he said. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/10/29/1250782/jinggoy‐meets‐lawyers‐passport‐issue                


36 caught for illegal fishing by Raymund F. Antonio  October 29, 2013  

Combined elements of the police and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) intercepted a fishing vessel and arrested its 33 crewmen for illegal fishing off Bararin Island in Palawan as maritime police patrols also netted three suspects for the same offense in waters off Bataan. The PCG reported that the fishermen aboard a vessel registered as “F/V Prince Edie-6” were caught fishing 4.7 nautical miles off Bararin Island around 2 p.m. Monday. PCG Station Cuyo said a compressor and active gears in fishing were found in the boat owned by Eddie Hopio from Occidental Mindoro while the arrested fishermen are all residents of Caminawit. CGS Cuyo confiscated the vessel and equipment while the fishermen were charged with the violation of the country’s fishery laws. As this developed, Senior Superintendent Audie Atienza, Bataan Police Provincial Office (PPO) director, reported the recent arrest of three people caught fishing illegally off the coast of Bataan. The Bantay Dagat, headed by Ernesto Antonio and backed up by police, arrested Arnel Alarcon, boat captain; John John Ibabao; and Enrique Ibabao, all of Orani, in waters off Samal, Bataan. Sr. Inspector Emelito dela Cruz, Samal police chief, said the suspects yielded an assortment of small fishes (sinilyasi and sapsap) weighing a total of kilos, their vessel “M/B Blue,” their active gear, and an illegal fine mesh net. Atienza directed the filing of charges of violating Sec. 89 (fine mesh net) and 90 (Active gear) of Republic Act 8550, The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, against the suspects. The PCG also issued Enforcement Inspection Apprehension Report and Maritime Violation Receipt on the fishing vessel, F/B Prince Edie-6, which was caught off Palawan for its expired minimum safe manning and boat captain certificates. http://www.mb.com.ph/36‐caught‐for‐illegal‐fishing/        


FDA warns on tainted drug by Jonathan M. Hicap  October 29, 2013  

Manila, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned local drug manufacturers and distributors against a contaminated cough medicine ingredient sourced from a drug laboratory in India. In an advisory, the FDA said it has received a drug alert from the World Health Organization (WHO) involving contaminated active pharmaceutical ingredient Dextromethorpan, manufactured by Konduskar Laborities Private Ltd. in India. “The API Dextromethorphan is contaminated with Levomethorphan, a toxic enantiomer [and] has caused several adverse drug reactions, including death,” the FDA warned. It advised drug manufacturers and distributors of Dextromethorpan products to recall and withdraw products containing Dextromethorpan that were sourced from Konduskar Laboratories. http://www.mb.com.ph/fda‐warns‐on‐tainted‐drug/                            


Protection of marine resources pushed By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 30, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers have pushed for stricter environmental laws for marine resources, including the imposition of stiffer fines for illegal trade of aquatic life. “We must act now to protect the country’s precious corals and other marine wealth before they are lost forever,” said Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, author of House Bill 2819, which seeks to increase the fines imposed on illegal trade and over-exploitation of corals and other marine species. The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 by imposing heavier fines ranging from P100,000 to P500,000 without changing the accompanying prison terms of six months to two years, at the discretion of the court. Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has filed House Bill 2803, which seeks to regulate the aquarium aquatic life collecting industry to ensure the health of the country’s coral reefs and aquatic life. “There is an urgent need to regulate the country’s aquarium aquatic life collecting industry to ensure the health of our country’s coral reefs and aquatic life. The industry of harvesting fish and other marine creatures for home and commercial aquariums remains largely unregulated thus raising various environmental concerns,” Arroyo said. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/10/30/1250849/protection‐marine‐resources‐pushed                    


Editorial: World’s largest flower in Philippines October 29, 2013  

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported that the world’s largest flower, named Rafflesia Manillana, was recently found in the thick forests of the Sierra Madre mountains in the province of Aurora, by a team of biologists and biodiversity experts from the National Museum of the Philippines while surveying reptiles and amphibians inside the Aurora Memorial National Park. The Rafflesia Manillana is in the DENR’s list of endangered species and can also be found in Mt. Natib in Bataan, Mt. Makiling in Laguna, Mt. Labo in Bicol, and in the Samar Island Natural Park. The flower found in Aurora was in full bloom, with a diameter of 17 centimeters. Scientists estimate that there are 17 Rafflesia species distributed throughout Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, there are at least 11 recognized species of Rafflesia, four of which are found in Luzon. The biodiversity expedition found at least 304 species of plants and 142 species of animals thriving in the 17,000-hectare forests in Central Luzon’s tallest mountain. The Aurora Memorial National Park covers more than 5,000 hectares of mostly low-land dipterocarp forests in the Sierra Madre mountain range at the border of Nueva Ecija and Aurora. Rising 1,000 meters above sea level, the Park has been declared a protected area under Proclamation No. 744 of 1941. It is home to 19 species of amphibians, 30 species of reptiles, and eight species of birds, including the endangered Philippine Eagle. In 2011, two species of forest mice of the genus Apomys were also discovered in the Mingan Mountains in Aurora. We congratulate the Department of Environment and Natural Resources headed by Secretary Ramon Jesus P. Paje, and the National Museum of the Philippines headed by Director Jeremy R. Barns, other Officers and Personnel, in their pursuit of sustainable development, in their protection, conservation, and management of the environment and natural resources for the present and future generations of our Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY! http://www.mb.com.ph/editorial‐worlds‐largest‐flower‐in‐philippines/            


Bank resources up 21% to P9.277 T By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 30, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  1 googleplus0  1  

MANILA, Philippines - The resources of the country’s banking sector grew further in August, indicating that they have enough funds to service loans that can further spur economic growth. Bank resources, which are made up of deposits, profits, and retained earnings, climbed 21 percent to P9.277 trillion as of August from P7.685 trillion a year ago, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed. The level of bank resources has been steadily increasing since the start of the year, indicating the strength of the local banking industry. The country’s sound and stable banking system has been a product of various reforms implemented by the BSP such as raising capital requirements and improving risk management efforts. Universal and commercial banks made up 90 percent of the banks’ resources as of August. Big banks’ resources rose 21 percent to P8.323 trillion from P6.885 trillion a year ago.


Thrift banks’ resources grew by 25 percent to P763.8 billion from last year’s P609.8 billion, while those of rural banks amounted to P190.1 billion as of August. BSP data also showed resources of non-banks, made up of pawnshops, insurance firms, lending companies, investment houses and securities dealers and brokers, expanded a by six percent to P2.231 trillion as of August from P2.104 trillion a year ago. Together with banks’ resources, the total resources of the country’s financial system stood at P11.508 trillion as of August. This is 18 percent above last year’s level of P9.789 trillion, central bank data showed. Banks held 81 percent of the financial system’s total resources, while non-banks had the remaining 19 percent. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/10/30/1250850/bank-resources-21-p9.277-t                                


Phl ranks top 10 most improved economies in business regulation (philstar.com) | Updated October 29, 2013 ‐ 11:00pm 

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The World Bank said today that the Philippines was among the top 10 economies making the biggest improvement in business regulation in the past year. The Philippines went up by 30 notches from 138 to 108, more than any other country out of 189 economies that "Doing Business" measured, said Motoo Konishi, World Bank Philippines Country Director, during the launch of the Doing Business 2014 in Manila. "The Philippines is one of the top reformers globally...this is the first major improvement for the Philippines in the Doing Business ranking since the report started 11 years ago," he said, citing that the change was a result of a concerted effort by the government in close consultation and partnership with the private sector. The World Bank attributed the huge improvement in the country's ranking to the Philippine government's implementation of regulatory reforms in three areas. These include the introduction of a fully operational online filing and payment system which made tax compliance easier for companies; simplified occupancy clearances, which eased construction permitting; and new regulations guarantee borrowers' right to access their data in the country's largest credit bureau. Singapore remained as the world's most business-friendly regulatory environment for local entrepreneurs, followed by Hong Kong, China, the World Bank said. Also on the list of the 10 economies with the most business- friendly regulations this year were New Zealand, the United States, Denmark, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Georgia, Norway, and the United Kingdom, it added. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/10/29/1251070/phl-ranks-top-10-most-improvedeconomies-business-regulation          


Insurance firms told to increase resources By Michelle V. Remo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   9:51 pm | Tuesday, October 29th, 2013  

The government plans to carry out additional hikes in the capital requirements of insurance companies to enable the insurance sector to raise its resources to at least a third of those of the banking industry within 10 years. According to Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, the government wants the insurance sector to grow by a much faster pace, in step with the country’s own rate of growth. Currently, combined resources of life and nonlife insurance companies in the country range from P600 billion to P700 billion—less than 10 percent of the P9.3 trillion in total resources of universal, commercial, thrift, and rural banks in the country, the Finance chief told reporters. One way to boost its resources is to further hike the capital requirements of the sector, on top of the one implemented in August when the new Insurance Code was enacted, he said. “An increase in capital normally comes with an increase in resources,” Purisima explained. With higher capitalization, insurance firms tend to become bigger and more financially stable— able to offer more financial products. Under the new Insurance Code, an insurance company’s net worth must be at least P250 million this year, P550 million by June 2016, P900 million in 2019, and P1.3 billion by June 30, 2022. The Department of Finance and its attached agency, the Insurance Commission, believe that the insurance sector needs to boost its capital requirements. The Insurance Commission is inclined to implement a risk-based capitalization system where companies are required to set aside additional capital every time its risk exposure increases, said Emmanuel Dooc, head of the commission. The risk-based capital requirement will be on top of the regular capital requirement provided for in the Insurance Code. http://business.inquirer.net/149871/insurance-firms-told-to-increase-resources


Solons, farmers slam rice agency’s imports By Christine F. Herrera | Posted 8 hours ago | 159 views THREE months after he was appointed to head the National Food Authority, Orlan Calayag’s first act was to import 250,000 metric tons – or about 4.11 million bags – of rice that was overpriced by $2.5 million, lawmakers and farmers charged Tuesday. Calayag, now under fire for his dual citizenship and inexperience, authorized the imports from Vietnam in April, or during the harvest season, which depressed farm gate prices from P18 a kilo to a low P12 a kilo, said Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Secretary General Antonio Flores. The importation was approved in March by the NFA Council, where his patron, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, is chairman, and where Calayag is vice chairman. “Official records show that the 250,000 metric tons of rice was overpriced by $10 per metric ton, resulting in the government paying more than P412 million,” Abakada Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz said, confirming Flores’ claim. Flores said Calayag’s second official act was to impose an increase of NFA rice from P28 a kilo to P32 a kilo. “The farmers were hit by a triple whammy when US citizen Calayag took over. The local markets were flooded by less costly imported rice, the farm gate prices went down and the prices of NFA rice shot up and continue to go up,” Flores said. Citing official records, Abono chairman Rosendo So said some 1 million metric tons of rice was smuggled into the country this year. “Due to rampant smuggling, the local farmers have made good their threat to stop planting rice this year. At least 50,000 hectares of rice fields were left abandoned in Isabela and 20,000 hectares in Pangasinan,” So told the Manila Standard. Each hectare produces four tons of palay, So said. Rice importers whose shipments were impounded accused Alcala of using allegations of smuggling as a cover for his controversial appointment of Calayag, a dual citizen. Lawyer Benito Salazar said his clients, Silent Royalty Marketing and Starcraft International, had legally brought in rice shipments without an import permit because the expiration of quantitative restrictions under the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade. “They are trying to divert the real issue. The issue on the citizenship of Administrator Calayag is a national problem, while the problem involving our rice shipment is a different thing,” Salazar said. Last week, the NFA reported that a total of 243,000 bags of smuggled rice were shipped into the country through the port of Davao. Calayag said that the rice imports entered the country without the necessary NFA import permits. With Rey E. Requejo and Anna Leah Estrada http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/30/solons‐farmers‐slam‐rice‐agencys‐imports/


Bring food on All Saints’ Day — DOH By PNA | Posted 8 hours ago | 62 views Manila — Individuals who will spend the whole day in the cemetery on All Saints Day are advised against eating unsanitary street food or suffer the possible consequence of diarrhea or, worst, food poisoning. The simplest way to prevent this is to bring your own food and water and avoid those that can easily get spoiled, the Department of Health (DOH) advised. DOH advised the public to avoid food commonly sold on the streets as one cannot tell if the food is contaminated or not until after consumption. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) food-borne illness caused by microorganisms is a large and growing public health problem. Approximately 1.8 million children in developing countries (excluding China) died from diarrheal disease in 1998, caused by microbiological agents, mostly originating from food and water, the WHO stated. The DOH also advised parents against bringing babies and small children to the cemetery because they are more prone to acquiring diseases and other infections due to their low resistance. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Enrique Ona also appealed to bus operators and other transport owners to deploy more buses during the celebration. Unplanned trips and overcrowding of passengers in public conveyances, or even privately owned vehicles, are common causes of accidents, Ona explained. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/30/bring-food-on-all-saints-day-doh/


‘Vinta’ heading for Luzon By Manila Standard Today | Posted 8 hours ago | 99 views TROPICAL Depression “Vinta” entered the Philippine area of responsibility on Tuesday morning, leading authorities to place at least two provinces in Northern Luzon under public storm warnings, according to the state weather bureau. Rene Paciente, the weather bureau’s senior forecaster and head of the forecasting section, said Vinta was 820 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes at 4 p.m. Tuesday and is expected to make landfall in the area of Isabela and Aurora provinces by Thursday. Public Storm Warning Signal No. 1 was thus hoisted over the two provinces and the weather bureau warned that Vinta, the fifth storm of October and the 22nd for the year, may still intensify since was still at sea. In fact, Paciente said Vinta strengthen its winds from 45 kph on Tuesday morning to 55 kph in the afternoon while its changed its west northwesterly director to westward at 26 kph. Paciente said the tropical depression may cross Isabela, Abra, Mt. Province and Ilocos Sur before it exits by Friday morning and warned that it may still develop into a tropical storm. It may also hit Metro Manila if it continues its westward tack. The rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening. Moderate to occasionally strong winds blowing from the northeast will prevail over Northern and Eastern Luzon and the coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to occasionally rough. Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the northeast to northwest with slight to moderate seas. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/30/vinta-heading-for-luzon/


Another govt firm gives execs big bonus By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on October 29, 2013 at 12:15am | 1,416 views PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III rewarded with hefty bonuses the directors of National Livelihood Development Corp. even if they were embroiled in the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles, an official said Monday. “What good did the NLDC do if it implemented ghost projects?” House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares said. “The issue is not just the amount of the bonuses but do they deserve it in the first place?” The officials of NLDC, the Social Security System, the Development Bank of the Philippines and 17 other government-owned or -controlled corporations were recently criticized for awarding themselves undeserved hefty bonuses. Colmenares said Aquino approved the bonuses that the NLDC officials awarded to themselves instead of subjecting them to an investigation and holding them accountable for the plunder of billions in pork barrel appropriations. “They should have been investigated but the reverse happened and they were given bonuses instead,” Colmenares said. He named the NLDC directors as Gondelina Amata who got P342,000, Concepcion Dodd (P342,000), Manuel Gotis (P342,000), Susana Leones (P361,000) and Sheila de Leon (P100,000). “Collectively they got P1.487 million for 2012,” Colmenares said. “The Governance Commission for Government-owned and -controlled corporations or GCG approved these bonuses but it did not follow the law which governs this, making the bonuses illegal. “Worse they did not even check the backgrounds of each GOCC and what anomalies they are involved in.” Citing Commission on Audit reports and the affidavit executed by whistle blower Benhur Luy, Colmenares said the NLDC was used as the conduit for around P1 billion worth of the pork barrel funds of five senators and eight congressmen that ended in seven fake NGOs allegedly controlled by Napoles from 2008 to 2012. “The President has defended the bonuses of the SSS board along with the other GOCCs, but does he know that he is also defending the supposed conduits for the pork barrel scam?” Colmenares said.


“Would he still say that all these bonuses are above board?” Colmenares said the GCG should have demanded their compliance and withheld the bonuses. He said the GCG admitted last week at the congressional hearing that they failed to follow the requirements under section 25 of Republic Act 10149, or the GOCC law, or the need for the mandatory posting on the GOCC website of the complete compensation package of the board members, including travel and representation expenses and five years of the GOCC’s financial statements. “President Aquino at a forum said that the attacks against the DAP [Disbursement Acceleration Program] coincided with the criticism against the bonuses received by SSS officials. He insisted that the framework for the bonuses was outlined in the law governing GOCCs,” Colmenares said. He said that, aside from the NLDC, the bonuses received by the DBP, SSS and 17 other GOCCs were also illegal. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/29/another-govt-firm-execs-get-big-bonus/


Escudero: Single parents need help By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on October 29, 2013 at 12:11am | 326 views Extending benefits and support on top of what is mandated by the Solo Parents Welfare Act should help single moms and dads to ensure that their children are given the opportunity for a better future, Senator Chiz Escudero said. Escudero, chairman of the senate committee on finance, pushed for the passage of Senate Bill 121 to cover discounts on purchases of baby’s milk, food and supplements, clothing and medical supplies among other provisions. In his proposal, a solo parent employee who has rendered service of at least one year, will be entitled to parental leave of not more than seven working days with pay in addition to leave privileges under existing laws; 10 percent discount on purchases of clothing and clothing materials for the child from conception until 2 years old; 15 percent discount on medicines and supplements/supplies for the child from conception until 5 years old; and basic personal exemption from individual income tax for P50,000 besides the present exemption a solo parent may claim. At the lower house, Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez of YACAP (You Against Corruption and Poverty), proposed an amendment last year, noting at least 13.9 million Filipinos were single parents. House Bill 6184, which has passed third and final reading, is co-authored by Zamboanga Rep. Seth Frederick Jalosjos, Manila Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, among other lawmakers. Citing government statistics, she said single parents made up 14 to 15 percent of the estimated 94 million Filipinos. “We must remember that our People Power icon and former President Corazon Aquino herself became virtual solo parent following the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino in 1983,� said Lopez, also a single parent, in explaining the need to grant guardians and foster parents as well, wide-ranging benefits because of their huge responsibility in society. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/29/escudero-single-parents-need-help/


Gazmin: I am ready to step down By Florante S. Solmerin | Posted 9 hours ago | 685 views Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Tuesday said he is ready to step down once President Benigno Aquino III wants him to leave the Department of National Defense. “I am ready to go if the President has no more confidence in me. I serve at the pleasure of the President. So if I will be replaced, thank you; if I will be retained, thank you also,” he told reporters in an interview at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City amid speculations of his falling out with the powers that be. Talks of Gazmin’s exit floated, becoming more pronounced Aquino’s inspection in Bohol and Cebu following the magnitude 7.2 quake last October 15. “There are rumors that I will be replaced by somebody. We never talked about this in Bohol. The issue never came out,” he said. “Well, I don’t know. Maybe some people are interested in the post.” Some issues being raised include the cemented blocks allegedly being brought by China into the Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in Masinloc, Zambales which Gazmin reckoned as “prelude to construction”. Insiders add the big-ticket items which the department’s Bids and Awards Committee over procurements of the military modernization program. Recently, Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon questioned the DND and AFP for acting slow on buying helicopters that could be useful for disaster response. “It has something to do [to] what I did, I think, during the deliberation of the budget, about the concrete blocks,” Gazmin mused. “But he (Aquino) was a speaker of FOCAP (Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines) and that was the issue and he was able to address this. He never mentioned this to me.” Gazmin served a head of the Presidential Security Guard of the President’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino. He retired as Army chief from the service. “Well, I really do not know. But like I said probably people are interested in the post and, well okay sa akin ‘yun. It’s time to go on vacation, it’s been a long dream for me,” he said. Gazmin knows a wedge is being driven by interested parties for obvious reasons. “Maybe, they would want to break the relationship,” he said, admitting his being identified with the military and the Aquino family at the same time. “If you want to break the relationship between the Aquinos and myself or myself and the Armed Forces, siraan mo ako, di ba (put me in a bad light, right?).” http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/30/gazmin-i-am-ready-to-step-down/


Color coding lifted in Makati on Nov. 1 By Manila Standard Today | Posted 9 hours ago | 15 views Makati will suspend the color coding scheme on Nov. 1 and reroute traffic around Manila South Cemetry starting 12 midnight of Oct. 31 to give way to the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, said a local executive.Graveyard shift. Records verifier Rolando Meledeo Jr. goes through files of names of people buried at the Manila North Cemetery. DANNY PATA Director Hermenegildo San Miguel, of the Department of Public Safety, said several roads will be closed to vehicles: Kalayaan Avenue – from Zapote Street to F. Zobel St.; South Ave. – from Metropolitan to J.P. Rizal; Vito Cruz – from South Ave. to Zapote St.; N. Garcia (formerly Reposo) – from Jupiter to JP Rizal; and Pililia St. – from J.P. Rizal to Kalayaan Ave. He said two-way traffic will be allowed on J.P. Rizal – from Pasong Tirad to Makati Ave.; Kalayaan Ave.– from F. Zobel St. to Makati Ave.; and from Pasong Tirad to Zapote St. San Miguel said rerouting will remain in effect until midnight of Nov. 2. The Makati Rescue and the Makati Health Department will deploy ambulances and medical teams to provide medical assistance and first-aid. PIA http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/30/color-coding-lifted-in-makati-on-nov-1/


House tackles metro traffic By Maricel Cruz | Posted 8 hours ago | 32 views Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said planners have to get their act together and dovetail solutions to the gridlock in the National Capital Region. He said road flow management should harmonize efforts of the 16 cities and one town that make up the metropolis instead of allowing turf mentality. Castelo also said a House bill is being finalized to make resolutions and ordinances of the Metro Manila Council prevail over local measures. “So we will avoid what happened in Manila as if they have their own republic,” he said citing a ban on provincial and city buses to ease road congestion. Resolution 48 on July 16, 2013 to allow only buses with private terminals in the capital. At the time, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno stuck to his position that the city council could override franchises of bus operators. “We assure the public that we are on top of the situation and we are preparing with the MMDA to come up with ways and means,” Castelo said. He said opposition is expected from public transportation operators and commuters to his proposed car pools to be exempted from number coding; a truck ban on major thoroughfares and secondary streets from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and a total ban of provincial bus terminals along Edsa. For the car pooling to work, Castelo said there should at least three passengers in the vehicle. The total truck ban meanwhile will cover secondary roads like Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City even as he admitted that removing about 60 terminals would be very unpopular. “I am sure this will be met with stiff opposition. The argument there will always be the increase in the prices of goods,” Castelo said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/30/house-tackles-metro-traffic/


Northern police has new chief By June David | Posted on October 29, 2013 at 12:02am | 458 views Chief Supt. Edgar Layon has taken over the Northern Police District Office, succeeding Chief Supt. Joel Ma. Alvarez who has reached the mandatory retirement age of 56. Layon, former director for administration at the Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan (Mimaropa) police regional office, is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class ‘84. The turnover was scheduled to be held in Camp Crame but Alvarez chose the NPD headquarters on Dagatdagatan Avenue in Caloocan City for a simple turnover with no program last week. Alvarez served the NPD from 2008 to 2010 as director operations and administration, respectively, before being assigned as director for administration in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao for two years. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/29/northern-police-has-new-chief/


Chinatrust changes name to CTBC Bank By Julito G. Rada | Posted 9 hours ago | 39 views Chinatrust (Philippines) Commercial Bank Corp. said Tuesday it changed its corporate name to CTBC Bank (Philippines) Corp., or CTBC Bank, to bring the Philippine subsidiary into global brand alignment. The bank said parent holding company, CTBC Financial Holding Co. Ltd. (formerly Chinatrust Financial Holding Co. Ltd.), initiated the change in name to unify its diversified financial activities in banking, securities, life insurance, insurance brokerage, investment, trust, venture capital, asset management and leasing, among others, under a more discernable brand—CTBC. “This move also aims to support the holding company’s overseas business development and strengthen its strategic objective of becoming an easily recognized, unified global brand,” Chinatrust Philippines president and chief executive Mark Chen said in a statement. He said there was no change in the bank’s ownership, business strategy, operations, agreements and transactions, as well as products and services offerings. Julito G. Rada http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/30/chinatrust-changes-name-to-ctbc-bank/


PH rises 30 spots in doing business By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted 9 hours ago | 23 views The Philippines jumped 30 spots in the World Bank’s annual ranking of countries in terms of having business-friendly environment for local entrepreneurs. “The Philippines jumped up in ranking by 30 points from 138 to 108, more than any other country out of 189 economies that Doing Business measures. This is the first major improvement for the Philippines in the Doing Business ranking since the report started 11 years ago,” World Bank country director Motoo Konishi said. The report titled Doing Business 2014: Understanding Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises showed that 22 of 23 economies in East Asia and the Pacific had made their regulatory environment more business-friendly since 2005. It said globally, the Philippines ranked among the top10 economies making the biggest improvement in business regulation in the past year, as it implemented regulatory reforms in three areas. These included the introduction of a fully operational online filing and payment system which made tax compliance easier for companies, simplified occupancy clearances which eased construction permitting and new regulations that guaranteed borrowers’ right to access their data in the country’s largest credit bureau. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/30/ph-rises-30-spots-in-doing-business/


Rice exports to UAE By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted 9 hours ago | 11 views The Philippines recently exported 100 metric tons of Dona Maria hybrid rice to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The export to Dubai, which will be distributed via a big international retail chain, is expected to become a regular export volume to the Filipino market there, according to SL Agritech Corp. “This rice is really being awaited for by Filipinos in Dubai. Some of our fellow Filipinos said they don’t want other kinds of rice from other countries that are tough or are not tender or aromatic. They really like Dona Maria Jasponica and Miponica rice,” said SL Agritech assistant to the chairman Michelle Lim-Gankee. “We didn’t really anticipate that the response of the international market to our rice will be this warm. The president [Benigno Aquino III] always says our flagship program is food sufficiency. That means we’ll have significant decrease in imports and significant increase in export,” said Agriculture Undersecretary for operations and national rice program coordinator Dante Delima. Total rice exports hit 300 metric tons as of October, exceeding the original full-year target of 100 MT. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/30/rice-exports-to-uae/


QUEZON CITY BARANGAY POLLS PEACEFUL – COMELEC October 29, 2013 10:30 pm  

by JING VILLAMENTE Quezon City’ Commission on Elections (Comelec) Officer Jovencio Balanguit on Tuesday assessed that the local polls in the city is generally peaceful with minor incidents of electionrelated violence. “Aside from harassment of teachers in Barangay Veterans, the election is generally peaceful. Wala namang vote buying reports,” Balanguit told The Manila Times. He said that after the winners for Barangay elections are proclaimed they will start serving their duties on November 30 or the first day of December this year. http://manilatimes.net/quezon-city-barangay-polls-peaceful-comelec/49001/


Palace reviews appointment of NFA chief October 29, 2013 10:30 pm  

by Catherine S. Valente and John Constantine G. Cordon Reporters MALACAÑANG on Tuesday said it will review the appointment of National Food Authority (NFA) chief Orlan Calayag, who is reportedly an American citizen. Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the Palace will review Calayag’s appointment, which went through the usual screening process. “There are hundreds of appointments being made that go to the Office of the President, and each one of those appointments goes through a vetting and screening process. So that is what was done in this case and in all other appointments,” Coloma explained. Calayag’s appointment paper was reportedly “fixed” so that his appointment, when signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, would not fall under the period of election ban on political appointments. But Coloma said there was “no antedating of the appointment.” Quoting from Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Coloma said that Calayag was first appointed on January 17, 2013, to serve the unexpired term of then NFA Administrator Angelito Banayo, who resigned from his post to run for Congress in Agusan del Norte during the May 2013 elections. Banayo’s term ended on June 30, 2013. “The text of the appointment only refers to the original term of office of Mr. Banayo, who Mr. Calayag was appointed to replace,” Coloma said. “This means his appointment covers only the unexpired term of Banayo, beginning from the date of appointment, 17 January to June 2013. He was reappointed on 12 July 2013. All of these are in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011,” he added. Calayag, a former chief of staff of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala when he was still a congressman of Quezon, is reportedly an American citizen. Reports showed that Calayag came back from the United States on December 19, 2011 with US Passport No. 462971672. He has since acquired dual citizenship, having regained his Filipino citizenship on January 7, 2013 or six months after his appointment as NFA administrator. However, lawyer Argee Guevarra says that Calayag remains an American citizen and therefore should not remain as NFA head.


The NFA charter states that its administrator must be a natural-born Filipino. The food agency had the biggest share of government subsidy from among 54 governmentowned and-controlled corporations (GOCCs) from 2010 to 2012. According to the Commission on Audit (COA), the NFA received a total of P61.17 billion– P38.42 billion in 2010, P9.21 billion in 2011 and P13.54 billion in 2012. COA said the grants were “in the form of tax subsidy, equity contributions and other subsidies.” For 2012 alone, out of the P70.4 billion subsidy for the 54 GOCCs, COA said that P31.79 billion was used for tax subsidy, conversion of advances and offsetting of guarantee fee. The Philippine Health and Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) was second with P24.19 billion (P3.5 billion in 2010, P6.63 billion in 2011 and P14.06 billion in 2012) while the National Housing Authority with P22.09 billion ( P3.5 billion in 2010, P16.19 billion in 2011, and P2.39 billion in 2012). The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) was fourth with P16.54 billion followed by National Power Corporation with P14.09 billion. In 2012, the top five recipients of government subsidy were Psalm, NFA, National Electrification Administration and Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation. http://manilatimes.net/palace-reviews-appointment-of-nfa-chief/48992/


Comelec stops proclamation of hundreds of candidates October 29, 2013 10:20 pm  

by Robertzon F. Ramirez Reporter For failing to register as voters in this week’s barangay elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) suspended the proclamation of almost 500 winning candidates. The poll body said that it had discovered that hundreds of candidates were not registered as voters, including 90 persons who ran for barangay captain. “We suspended the proclamation of more or less 500 (erring candidates),” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr. said. Poll Commissioner Christian Robert Lim explained that the suspension of the proclamation of these officials is a “precautionary move, pending the hearing on the merits of their actual statuses.” “Once they are proclaimed, we will lose jurisdiction on the cases. These will now be in forms of election protests, which will take a longer time to resolve,” Lim said. Based on Comelec records, there were 400 candidates who did not register as voters, eight candidates who have been accused of being nuisance bets, and four who were convicted of criminal offenses. Brillantes said that only registered voters are qualified to seek public office. If a certain winning candidate is disqualified, the next candidate with the second highest number of votes will be proclaimed as winner by the poll body. The Comelec chief said that they were not able to disqualify these candidates because they had little time to screen them. However, he gave assurances that the commission will be able to decide all the cases before the new terms of office of the winners start on November 30. The Comelec said that as of yesterday afternoon, about 75 percent of the winning barangay candidates had been proclaimed.


“Out of 42,028 positions, 30,790 candidates for these positions have been proclaimed already,” Teopisto Elnas Jr., director for Election and Barangay Affairs, told reporters. “That’s 73.29 percent, excluding Zamboanga City, Bohol, Calayan in Cagayan and Pikit in North Cotabato,” he said. The Comelec did not hold elections in Zamboanga City and Bohol. Residents in several barangays in Pikit Cotabato were also not able to vote because no teacher was willing to serve. The election in Calayan, Cagayan was postponed to October 30 because the election paraphernalia were not delivered on time. Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas admitted that it is difficult to investigate and prosecute candidates involved in vote-buying, which was rampant in the barangay election. “Talagang mahirap yun sa vote-buying, dahil patago ito… sikreto ito at kung walang nagreklamo, walang nagturo, paano naman papasok ang pulis at mag-arresto ng tao (It is really difficult to run after vote-buyers because it was done in secret. If no one will file a complaint and identify people involved in vote-buying, how can the police step in?” Roxas told reporters. He said that it is hard to pin down the erring candidates because neither the person who gave the money nor the one who received it will admit to the deed. “The problem with vote-buying is that there has to be a complainant and in this case, none were complaining. We have intelligence reports, unvalidated reports,” the DILG chief said. http://manilatimes.net/comelec-stops-proclamation-of-hundreds-of-candidates/48982/


CHED defends P4.28-B ‘pork barrel’ October 29, 2013 10:14 pm  

by Neil A. Alcober Reporter COMMISSION on Higher Education (CHEd) Chairman Patricia Licuanan on Tuesday admitted that they received a P4.28 billion funding from the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) but clarified that the money was used to enhance the capacity of state universities and colleges (SUCS). Licuanan said the P4.28 billion DAP funding was allocated to enhance the capacity of SUCs to modernize and upgrade infrastructure and facilities, fund research, development and extension (RDE) activities to benefit their communities, strengthen the capability of SUC executives, and provide access for poor students. “As of September 2013, P3.96 billion out of the P4.03 billion or 98.26 percent has been released to the University of the Philippines (UP) and Mindanao State University (MSU) Systems receiving more than half of the investment at P1.383 and P1.039 billion, respectively,” she said. Licuanan said the fund, which was released to the Commission in 2011, was also used to upgrade infrastructure and facilities, including five projects for UP-Baguio. DAP-funded projects, she added, include 14 high-impact infrastructure projects and equipment upgrades in the pipeline at the MSU-Marawi City main campus consisting of the soon to be erected three-storey Science and Technology building and state-of-the-art Computer Center. CHEd has also set aside a P560 million budget to finance 128 projects of 22 state colleges and universities through the help of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. “The approved RDE projects focus on priority themes such as climate change impacts and mitigation, disaster science, biodiversity, agriculture and food security, health, alternative sources of energy, education, and other societal concerns at the regional and national levels. These projects are expected to produce at least 20 research and development technologies to be disseminated in 500 barangays [villages] and to benefit more than 100,000 households in the next three years,” Licuanan explained. The CHEd chair also noted that at least 800 school officials have benefited from the executive development program through the DAP funding. “These courses have been designed to enhance their competencies in strategic planning, quality assurance and improvement, develop world class universities, research and development management, extension management, performance-based budgeting, asset development for resource generation and management, among others. To date, 60 percent of the P165 million allotment has been used already,” Licuanan said.


The CHEd, she added, has also set aside P500 million to finance the education of more than 4,000 students enrolled in 35 selected state universities and colleges under the “Students Grantsin-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA). Student-beneficiaries are selected by the Department of Social Welfare and Development under its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program. “This is a testament to the government’s commitment to steadily increase investment in education from 2.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2010 all the way to 4.9 percent in 2016, thereby reaching the international benchmark spending for education in developing countries,” Licuanan said. http://manilatimes.net/ched-defends-p4-28-b-pork-barrel/48957/


NFA receives biggest govt subsidy in 3 years October 29, 2013 4:07 pm  

The National Food Authority (NFA) snagged the biggest portion of government subsidy from 2010 to 2012 among the rank of 54 government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), obtaining 30 percent of the billion-worth grant for the last three years. According to the Commission on Audit (COA), the Grains authority had a total of P61.17 billion out of the available P200 billion grant from the state from 2010 to 2012. The NFA had a total of P38.42 billion in subsidy in 2010. This shrank to P9.21 billion in 2011 but picked up to P13.54 billion in 2012. COA explained that these grants were “in the form of tax subsidy, equity contributions and other subsidies.” For 2012 alone, out of the P70.4-billion subsidy for the 54 GOCCs, COA said that P31.79 billion was used for tax subsidy, conversion of advances and offsetting of guarantee fee. The Philippine Health and Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) came in at second with 12.10-percent share out of the P200 billion for the last three years. PhilHealth had P3.5 billion in 2010, P6.63 billion in 2011, and P14.06 billion in 2012. The National Housing Authority closed in at third: P3.5 billion in 2010, P16.19 billion in 2011, and P2.39 billion in 2012 or a total of P22.09 billion, which is 11.05 percent of the P200 billion. The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) came in at fourth even it was only subsidized in 2012 with P16.54 billion. Another power company, National Power Corp. (Napocor), capped off the fifth spot with 7.04 percent. Napocor was only subsidized in 2011 with P14.09 billion. 2012 top five In 2012 alone, Psalm had the biggest share of subsidy. Followed by Philhealth and NFA. Another power company, the National Electrification Administration, settled at fourth with P4.95 billion out of the 2012′s P70.4-billion subsidy. Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. closed the top five for 2012 with P4.32 billion.


Controversy-rigged Social Security System was only subsidized in 2012 with P45.28 million. The National Agribusiness Corp., the GOCC which was connected to the pork barrel scam, had P20 million only in 2010, being the least among the 54 recipients. Other billion-worth recipients for 2012 include the National Irrigation Administration (P2.81 billion), National Housing Authority (P2.39 billion), Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (P1.82 billion), Philippine Coconut Authority (P1.18 billion), and the Government Service Insurance System (P1.5 billion). JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON http://manilatimes.net/nfa-receives-biggest-govt-subsidy-in-3-years/48812/


Ifugao lawmaker warns against prolonged wakeskating in Rice Terraces October 29, 2013 3:14 pm  

An Ifugao lawmaker has warned against continuous wake skating in the magnificent Rice Terraces in the Cordilleras which is a huge rice planting area that mimic steps to heaven. Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao province made the appeal in light of the video made by professional wake skaters Brian Grubb (American) and Dominik Preisner (German) who paid a visit to the country to do wake skating at the Banaue Rice Terraces. The wake skaters described the Banaue Rice Terraces as a perfect playground for a unique wake skate session. “If it were just a promotional gimmick, then I can live with it because it is a creative way to bring tourists to the Terraces. But we have to remember that the Rice Terraces were built for food production, not for leisure or extreme sports,” Baguilat said in a text message. The Terraces in Banaue (Batad and Bangaan), Mayoyao, Kiangan and Hungduan are classified by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization as World Heritage Sites because of their altitude up to 1500 meters and steep slopes (maximum of 70 degrees). Further, its irrigation system is composed of complex schemes of dams, channels and bamboo pipes which were built without any modern equipment. The wake skaters have secured the permission of the tribal leaders there before they pulled off their move and rode the Terraces’ paddies. Baguilat, however, cautioned that wake skating cannot be a regular tourism activity because the Terraces’s paddies—where the rice is planted—are utilized the whole year round. “If this is going to be a tourism activity, there should be a serious consideration on its impact. I’m sure the farmers would not want to be disrupted in their planting, harvesting and fallow period,” Baguilat added. LLANESCA T. PANTI http://manilatimes.net/ifugao-lawmaker-warns-against-prolonged-wakeskating-in-riceterraces/48810/


Solons want CCTV installation a mandatory requirement for establishments October 29, 2013 11:06 am  

To help solve crimes, lawmakers proposed that the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras be made a mandatory requirement for business establishments and government offices all over the country. The proposal embodied in House Bill 2449 or the proposed “CCTV Act of 2013” was filed by siblings Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Rep. Maximo Rodriguez (Party-list, Abante Mindanao). According to the solons, the installation of CCTV cameras will help prevent and solve crimes. The solon-lawyer said one way to lower the high crime data is to install CCTV cameras in establishments. He cited crime data gathered by the Philippine National Police (PNP) showing that from January to November 2011, the PNP recorded 230,817 crime incidents. “While the number is lower compared to previous years like in 2009 when 333,416 crime incidents were reported, the figure is still very high. One way to lower this high crime rate is to provide deterrents, which would make criminals think twice and reconsider. One very effective form of deterrent is the installation of CCTV cameras,” said the elder Rodriguez. The proposal mandates all business establishments employing more than 20 employees or workers and with work premises of not less than 50 meters in the country shall install and maintain, in good working condition, high quality surveillance or CCTV cameras in all their entrances and exits within the premises of their work area, the perimeter of their work areas or establishments, and other areas of their business to protect their patrons and deter crime. Moreover, the CCTV cameras should be able to clearly show the faces of the persons recorded. The bill also prohibits the installation of CCTV cameras in any restroom, toilet, shower, bathroom or changing room, and other similar areas. The owner or manager of commercial establishments shall maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the recorded video feeds which can be used when required in law enforcement. PNA http://manilatimes.net/solons-want-cctv-installation-a-mandatory-requirement-forestablishments/48779/


Bill mandating installation of CCTV cameras filed A BILL that will make installation of closed‐circuit television (CCTV) cameras a mandatory  requirement for business establishments and government offices all over the country has been  recently filed at the House of Representatives.  House Bill 2449 (HB) or the proposed “CCTV Act of 2013” was filed by siblings Reps. Rufus B.  Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Rep. Maximo B. Rodriguez (Party‐list, Abante  Mindanao) “to help solve crimes”.    “The installation of CCTV cameras will not only prevent crimes but could also help at solving  crimes,” the Cagayan de Oro City solon was quoted as saying in a statement yesterday.    “One way to lower the high crime rate is to provide deterrents, which would make criminals  think twice and reconsider. One very effective form of deterrent is the installation of CCTV  camera,” he added.    The party‐list lawmaker, for his part, said CCTV cameras has been proven an effective tool to  aid in solving crimes. “It is high time that CCTV cameras become a mandatory requirement for  different establishments all over the country,” he said.    HB 2449 mandates all business establishments employing more than 20 employees to install  and maintain high‐quality surveillance CCTV cameras in all their entrances and exits within the  premises of their work area. ‐‐ ICCD   http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Bill‐mandating‐ installation‐of‐CCTV‐cameras‐filed&id=78642             


Posted on October 29, 2013 10:23:05 PM

Aquino touts gains of TESDA

PRESIDENT Benigno S. C. Aquino III yesterday touted gains of the Technical Education and Skills  Development Authority (TESDA) during his administration.  At the Second National Technical Vocational Education and Training Congress in SMX  Convention Center in Pasay City yesterday, the President said the agency’s Training for Work  Scholarship Program has 547,554 graduates from July 2010 to September this year.    Mr. Aquino cited a Budget department data which shows that 62.4% of TESDA graduates found  jobs last year, while 28.5% of TESDA graduates in 2006 to 2008 found jobs.    The President again mentioned the “two sweet spots” that the country is enjoying.    He said the country will enter a demographic sweet spot in 2015, which means majority of the  population will be joining the work force.    Meanwhile, he said the middle income sweet spot means the country’s gross domestic product  (GDP) per capita is expected to reach $6,000 by 2019.    Based on a data from the World Bank, the country’s GDP per capita, or GDP divided by midyear  population, is $2,587 as of last year.    Mr. Aquino said the TESDA is helping to address the job‐skills mismatch in the country. ‐‐  Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza   http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Aquino‐touts‐gains‐of‐ TESDA&id=78640           


Posted on October 29, 2013 10:25:21 PM

Malacañang not keen on people’s initiative to scrap ‘pork barrel’

MALACAÑANG SEEMS not too keen in supporting efforts to abolish the so‐called pork barrel of  legislators through a people’s initiative.  Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma said  people’s initiative is not the only option available to scrap the controversial Priority  Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).    “While we recognize that people’s initiative is a valid exercise of citizens’ democratic rights  under the 1987 Constitution, we believe that it is not the only available option at this time and  all other options need to be considered thoroughly as this will have far‐reaching implications on  our people,” Mr. Coloma told a Palace briefing yesterday.    “A people’s initiative presupposes that the Legislative and the Executive branches of  government are unwilling to enact and implement laws that will prevent the misuse of public  funds,” he added.    Mr. Coloma said the administration believes that there are sufficient avenues for legislative  reform and that Congress is prepared to enact laws to institutionalize these reforms.    “We share common ground with advocates of reform towards greater transparency and  accountability in the use of public funds,” Mr. Coloma said.    The Cabinet official said the Aquino administration is supportive of legislative reforms and is  prepared to adopt on its own appropriate measures that will safeguard the integrity of public  funds.    Mr. Coloma issued the statement after reports quoted former Supreme Court chief justice  Reynato S. Puno as saying that the people’s initiative “is the last peaceful alternative for the  people to take charge of their destiny.”  “If it failed, we can expect the anger of the people to reach a higher temperature. There will be  no other option left,” Mr. Puno further said.  The Supreme Court is expected to decide next month on the constitutionality of PDAF after 


hearing oral arguments of petitioners and the Office of the Solicitor General earlier this month.    The House of Representatives last week approved on third and final reading the proposed budget for  next year wherein the lump sum P25.4‐billion allocation for PDAF is realigned to six departments.    Calls to scrap the pork barrel funds came after it was discovered that the PDAF of legislators are  allegedly being used to finance ghost projects being implemented by bogus nongovernment  organizations. Charges have been filed against several legislators allegedly involved in the scam. ‐‐  Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza   http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Malaca%C3%B1ang‐not‐keen‐on‐ people%E2%80%99s‐initiative‐to‐scrap‐%E2%80%98pork‐barrel%E2%80%99&id=78646                                     


Posted on October 29, 2013 11:22:48 PM

Philippines tagged most improved for business THE PHILIPPINES emerged as the economy that improved the most in the latest issue of an annual joint  World Bank‐International Finance Corp. report that tracks changes in regulations applied to domestic  small‐ and medium‐sized companies.    The 11th edition of Doing Business report showed the Philippines soared 30 notches from last year to  land at 108th place among 189 economies on this year’s list. Libya, Myanmar, San Marino and South  Sudan were added this year.    “The Philippines jumped in ranking by 30 points from 138 to 108, more than any other country out of  189 economies that Doing Business measures,” according to a prepared speech of World Bank’s  Philippines Country Director Motoo Konishi that was e‐mailed to media by the multilateral lender’s local  office.    “This is the first major improvement for the Philippines in the Doing Business ranking since the report  started 11 years ago.”    Apart from the Philippines, the other most improved economies in terms of ranking were Ukraine (up 25  places to 112th), Rwanda (20 notches to 32nd), Brunei Darussalam (20 spots to 59th), Russian  Federation (20 to 92nd), Burundi (up 19 places to 140th), Guatemala (14 notches to 79th), Brazil (14  spots to 116th), Iraq (14 to 151st), and Kosovo (12 to 86th).    The top 10 positions were occupied, in descending order, by Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand,  United States, Denmark, Malaysia, South Korea, Georgia, Norway and the United Kingdom.    Besides Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, faring better than the Philippines in Southeast Asia were  Thailand (18th) and Vietnam (99th).    Those ranked below the Philippines were Indonesia (120th), Cambodia (137th), Laos (159th), Timor‐ Leste (172nd) and Myanmar (182nd).    In a briefing yesterday, Guillermo M. Luz, co‐chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, noted  Philippine ranking performance in the report’s 10 indicators this year was “a complete turnaround” from  last year, when the country placed lower in seven.    “We have made improvements in seven out of the 10 indicators, so this year is a complete turnaround 


from last year,” Mr. Luz said.    “The 30 (‐place) jump is the highest not just for the Philippines but also in the world this year.”    The report noted improvements in resolving insolvency (up 65 spots to 100th), getting credit (43 to  86th), getting electricity (24 spots to 33rd), paying taxes (12 to 131st), trading across borders (11 to  42nd), dealing with construction permits (up one place to 99th) and registering property (also one notch  to 121st).    “These changes have been attributed to elimination of certain documentary requirements, guaranteed  access to credit information, electronic systems for filing contributions, and impact of laws such as the  Data Privacy Act and the Financial Rehabilitation and Insolvency Act,” the report read.    On the other hand, drops were seen in the areas of starting a business (down nine ranks to 170th) and  enforcing contracts (three spots to 114th), while there was no change in protecting investors (128th).    “I’m impressed...This is a great jump ‐‐ 30 ranks from 138 to 108...” John D. Forbes, senior advisor at the  American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said in the same briefing.    “But the tough challenge begins when you get to the neighborhood where economies have higher  rankings.” ‐‐ D. E. D. Saclag   http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Philippines‐tagged‐most‐ improved‐for‐business&id=78671                       


Corruption, high prices twin ills of Noy — poll Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Wednesday, 30 October 2013 00:00   Corruption, high prices, salaries and availability of jobs were the top concerns of respondents in  a Pulse Asia survey held last Sept. 14 to 27.  The survey results showed the most often cited urgent national concerns are fighting  corruption in government (48 percent), controlling inflation (48 percent), increasing the pay of  workers (46 percent), and creating more jobs (42 percent). Also 32 percent of those surveyed  cite poverty as a national concern that requires the immediate attention of the Aquino  administration.   Amid a controversy regarding the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of several lawmakers and the Zamboanga City siege, Filipinos’ level of concern regarding corruption in government and peace in the country increased between June and September 2013 by 17 and seven points, respectively, according to Pulse Asia. On the other hand, public concern about inflation eased during the period down by 13 percentage points. The survey results also pointed to respondents giving a poor grade to the government regarding measures being taken to address urgent national issue. The Aquino administration scores majority approval ratings on only two of the 10 national issues on which it is performance-rated in September 2013, Pulse Asia said. In this survey, it is only on the issues of criminality and rule of law that the current dispensation is able to obtain majority approval scores of 60 percent and 54 percent, respectively, it said. These issues are deemed urgent by 17 percent to 18 percent of Filipinos. Meanwhile, approval is the plurality sentiment toward the work done by the Aquino administration on the issues of low workers’ pay (43 percent), employment (45 percent), peace (46 percent), corruption (47 percent), and environment (50 percent). Almost the same approval and indecision ratings are obtained by the national administration on the issues of population growth (41 percent versus 39 percent) and poverty (39 percent versus 34 percent) while public opinion regarding its efforts to control inflation is split (34 percent approval, 34 percent indecision, and 32 percent disapproval). With the raging PDAF controversy, appreciation for the Aquino administration’s anti-corruption initiatives fell between March and September by 12 percentage points while criticism on the lack of action towards addressing the prevalence of corruption became more marked by 16 percentage points, Pulse Asia said. In addition, levels of disapproval for the work done by the national administration on five issues increased significantly during this period, on employment rising by seven percentage points, low pay of workers up seven points, rapid population growth rising seven points, inflation growing seven points, and peace higher by 12 points. While the interviews for this survey were being conducted, the Zamboanga City siege by an


armed faction of the Moro National Liberal Front (MNLF) was unfolding, according to Pulse Asia. Former Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano yesterday said the drop in the approval rating of President Aquino was due mainly to corruption tolerance in his administration. The former solon added that this latest survey shows that the people are now more getting conscious particularly on corruption-related issues. Mariano, national president of the partylist group Anakpawis, said that the mishandling of the pork barrel scam case, questionable fat bonuses of government-controlled and owned corporations executives and the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) knocked the sense out of the 1000 respondents expressed dismay with the president’s performance. “The palace-backed survey cannot deny that the latest sharp dropped on President Aquino’s approval rating is mainly due to his failure to the address corruption issue. His tolerance to corruption in which some of his cabinet members and appointees in different government positions are involved slowly getting back at him” Mariano said Mariano also said that the president is also guilty of fund misuse as claiming that Aquino, together with budget chief Butch Abad and Senate Franklin Drilon, invented the DAP to transfer almost P1 Billion of government savings to reward senators and congressmen who helped oust the former Supreme Court chief justice. In addition; Aquino approved the 2014 national budget which maintains the privilege of lawmakers to request projects. Also under the recent signed budget, Aquino can utilize off-budget accounts like the Malampaya funds, the DAP, lump-sum special purpose funds, unprogrammed funds and among others which estimated from P500 Billion to a whopping P1 Trillion annually Moreover, he said that the recent survey which a 44 percent decrease on the presidents’ approval rating compared to Pulse Asia’s 79 percent dropped conducted last Sept. 14 to 27 and the 14 percent decrease compared to his +49 percent rating in the September 20 to 23 SWS survey respectively commissioned by the Office of the Political Affairs that backfired on Aquino was not surprising. ‘”No political deodorizer and survey wizardly will save Aquino’s declining approval rating this time. Only in the persecution of corrupt government officials and the total abolition not only of PDAF, DAP and all forms of lump sum and discretionary funds in which Aquino presently wields then his administration will save its face which is next to impossible” Mariano said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/corruption‐high‐prices‐twin‐ills‐of‐noy‐poll          


De Lima again postpones filing 2nd plunder batch Written by  Tribune   Wednesday, 30 October 2013 00:00   Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday said her office may not be able to meet the selfimposed deadline to file criminal complaints against the second batch of those implicated in irregularities in the disbursement of legislators’ discretionary fund. De Lima who had earlier said her agency was eyeing the filing of charges before Halloween (November 1) now claims it will be up to the National Bureau of Investigation if it can complete its fact-finding probe on the controversy. De Lima confirmed the second batch would be based solely on the accounts of whistle-blowers and documentary evidence in the ensuing scandal involving the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) into dummy organizations set up by Janet Lim-Napoles. “Take note that what we’re working on are still the Napoles-related NGOs, Napoles-related transactions…based on the knowledge of the whistleblowers plus documentary evidence, so that’s the way it goes. It will still be Napoles-related—those who had passed on their pork barrel allocations to the Napoles non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Those who had transacted with Napoles. That is the second batch,” De Lima said. Earlier,de Lima was quoted as saying that there will be no Liberal Party senators and Aquino allied legislators who will be charged for plunder. The NBI, the justice chief said is working on the persons behind Ruby Tuason, who, she alleged received the largest sum in kickbacks. Tuason who worked as protocol officer of former President Joseph Estrada, was reportedly the conduit to Napoles of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who, along with Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., are among the first 38 respondents in the plunder and malversation complaints filed over the pork barrel scam with the Office of the Ombudsman. “That’s (identification of Tuason’s principal) being worked on. Again, we will just announce if, let’s say, we have identified the principal through clear evidence, through sufficient evidence and then we are ready to be filing either an amended letter complaint or a supplemental letter complaint. It’s most probably a supplemental letter-complaint if there are additional facts that we uncover that could really point to the principal or principals of Ruby Tuason,” De Lima said. Meanwhile, Sen.Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. yesterday raised a howl anew over what he claimed is an apparent continuing attempts to link him to the pork barrel scandal through what he described as trial by publicity scheme. “It is what it is, it’s a publicity stunt,” the senator said in the latest report that came out in a broadsheet paper quoting one of the supposed whistleblowers in the misuse of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) on Marcos’ purported “sponsorship” in the release of P24.5 million to a bogus non-government organization called named Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAMFI) for livelihood projects in Davao del Sur and


Davao Oriental in 2011. MAMFI is reported to be identified with detained businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, alleged brains behind the P10 billion pork barrel scam. Marcos, however, claimed that despite efforts to link him to the fund misuse, he has been practically vindicated on the issue especially as those being alleged to be funneled by him to fake NGOs were attributed to Malacañang’s controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), an economic stimulus program of Aquino of which he and a number of both incumbent and former senators were completely unaware. A number of senators, reports said, were alleged to be “recipients” of the said funds from DAP yet they denied knowledge on the receipt and existence of such stimulus fund program of Malacanang. Marcos, who is currently in Ilocos Norte after he cast his vote in the recently-concluded barangay polls, expressed shock and disbelief upon learning that his name has once again been dragged in the issue based solely supposedly on the affidavit of certain Marina Sula, who claimed to be one of Napoles staff and who had earlier stated that the said P2.45 million transaction was the only transaction reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in 2011 by the said NGO. By Benjamin B. Pulta and Angie M. Rosales http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/de‐lima‐again‐postpones‐filing‐2nd‐plunder‐batch                        


Palace aides scramble for denials on big drop in Noy’s ratings Written by  Paul Atienza   Wednesday, 30 October 2013 00:00  

Denials flew fast and thick from Malacañang’s new spokesman, along with presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas, over the Philippine Star report Tuesday that a Palace-commissioned private survey showed President Aquino’s popularity ratings dropping to between 35 percent and 44 percent when compared to the two known pro-Aquino surveys, Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia (Pulse). According to the Star report, which saw print on its Page 8, President Aquino’s approval rating had hit a record low amid the pork barrel scandal, as the Malacañang survey showed. According to data gathered by The Star, the report went, a survey commissioned by the Office of Political Affairs in October 2013 showed the President’s rating down to 35 percent. The survey had 1,000 respondents. Denials from the Palace were expected, but reliable sources told the Tribune that the Palace, whether during the time of then President Gloria Arroyo or Aquino’s current time, always commissions surveys on the president and the administration, and always these are conducted on a private basis, or for the Palace eyes only. No privately commissioned survey on the president and his administration is made public when the survey findings are negative to the president. These private surveys are usually done for the Palace people to gauge the real sentiment of the people, as the survey firms, especially under the Aquino administration, tend to provide the Palace results favorable to the president. Already, the two latest surveys from two polling firms, the SWS and Pulse, released this month, held a great variance in the approval/performance/satisfaction ratings, which too many found questionable. Pulse gave Aquino’s approval rating at 79 percent, a six point increase from his surveys in June. Pulse’s survey was conducted from Sept. 14 to 27. This was amid the oirk barrel scandal and presidential pork. Compared to Pulse ratings, Aquino’s rating in the Palace survey suffered a 44-percent drop.


It was also a decrease of 14 percent compared to his +49 percent rating in the Sept. 20 to 23 SWS survey, where Aquino dropped 35 percent. Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas also denied that he never commissioned an internal survey. But the denial, however, was said to have been written by a law firm that also serves as a consultant, apparently for the office of Llamas. The deniial came from Belmonte, Sison Sawali and Associates counsels and consultants, as the denial letter heading stated. Tribune sources said the survey was leaked by a Palace office worker. The report also mentioned that Vice President Jejomar Binay’s approval rating also declined but remains high compared to Aquino. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima got +38 percent. The survey also showed that Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. got a zero while Senate President Franklin Drilon obtained a -14 percent approval rating, the Star reportred. Senators Jinggoy Estrada got -14 percent; Ramon Revilla Jr., -15 percent; and Juan Ponce Enrile, -21 percent. The three are facing plunder charges along with 34 others, in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scandal. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda got -20 percent and -16 percent, respectively. Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo got -69 percent. Said Llamas: “I strongly and categorically deny that there was any survey commissioned by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs concerning the President’s approval rating or any other public official for that matter,” according to the law firm letter quoting him. The denial added: “As far as my office is concerned, the results of the recent surveys conducted by the country’s top two polling opinion bodies are enough to measure the people’s continued trust and support to President Aquino,” Llamas said. Llamas said in the SWS survey report last Oct. 14, 2013, “the President continues to enjoy positive approval ratings”. He said that “Mahar Mangahas, SWS chief, had explained it in his recent article, “P-Noy’s rating has never been double-downgraded. None of the previous four presidents were as popular as PNoy is now at the same stage, or at any later stage, of their terms.” Llamas added that “the Pulse Asia Ulat ng Bayan Survey for Sept. 2013 showed that the President’s performance approval rating climbed from 73 to 79, representing a 6-point increase, while his trust rating remains high at 76 percent”. “I have released this statement in order to address whatever false impression that the said news article might have created,” Llamas said. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. also denied anything about the initiated “internal survey” by Malacañang. “I have no knowledge of such kind of survey neither I have seen it if there is one,” Coloma said. Anna Guerra-dela Vega, director, office of the Political Adviser (OPA), said Coloma was right in his statement. She said OPA had not commissioned any survey whether private or not. http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/palace-aides-scramble-for-denials-on-big-drop-in-noys-ratings


Outgoing Capiz village chief kills brother, sisters after losing in polls Written by  Gina Peralta‐Elorde   Wednesday, 30 October 2013 00:00   Three siblings were massacred, including a newly elected barangay captain, when they were attacked by their own brother in Barangay Manapao, Ponteverda, Capiz late Monday night. Dead on the spot were Barangay Chairman-elect Ramon Arcenas; his sisters Jennifer ArcenasNuyles and Evelyn Arcenas-Espinar. Investigation showed that the suspect — their own brother, Manuel Arcenas — armed with a gun went inside the victims house and shot Ramon on the head. According to Josephine Arcenas, Ramon’s wife, her brother-in-law barged into their house and without a word, fired his gun at her husband. After he attacked Ramon, the suspect then proceeded to the living room and shot his sister Jennifer and Evelyn who were inside the room. Mrs. Arcenas told police investigators that Manuel was fuming mad at them when he and his daughter did not make it to the barangay polls. Manuel ran for barangay councilor, but he lost, and so his daughter Isabel Arcenas ran as barangay captain, but lost to Ramon. Manuel went into hiding after the crime. The local police launched massive manhunt operations against the suspect. Despite the reported criminalities, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas is firmed in saying that the barangay elections held last Monday was “generally peaceful,” noting that it was just one barangay of 42,000 barangays in the country. “In totality, regular, successful the election despite a few untoward incidents,” Roxas explained. Roxas said that at least 644 people were apprehended for Comelec gun ban violations. Since the start of the gun ban on Sept. 28, a total of 539 firearms, 68 grenades and 290 other explosives had been seized, the report added. He also assured the public that he has ordered the PNP to go after the violators during the election period.


The Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations General Felipe Rojas Jr. said at least 46 suspected politically-motivated incidents were recorded during the election period from September 28 to October 28. Of the 46 incidents, 39 were cases of shooting, one strafing, three stabbing, and three were other cases. Relatedly, an explosion occurred near a polling center in Cotabato City on Monday. Cotabato City police director Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin said the explosion occurred some 30 meters away from Ayunan Elementary School in Barangay Mother Kalanganan past 5 p.m., two hours after the voting hours ended. Balquin said the explosive came from an M-79 grenade launcher. No one was wounded in the explosion. According to the local police the explosion may have been intended to delay the tallying of votes inside the precinct. The barangay chairman ran unopposed while there were 20 vying for the positions of barangay councilor. Despite the blast, the election was considered peaceful. http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/outgoing-capiz-village-chief-kills-brother-sisters-afterlosing-in-polls


Pinoy fishermen harassed by Chinese off Ayungin last June, says Palawan mayor Written by  Mario J. Mallari   Wednesday, 30 October 2013 00:00   Go back to the Philippines! These were the words from Chinese vessels addressed to Filipino fishermen while trying to get near the Philippine-occupied Ayungin Shoal in Palawan. Pagasa Mayor Eugenio Bito-ono yesterday revealed that a fisherman-friend informed him of the incident last June while attempting to fish along the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal, where Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre remained aground and serves as barracks for Filipino troops. “Using public address, sound system they (Filipino fishermen) were told ‘go back to the Philippines,’” Bito-onon said. “There are really harassment activities because I myself saw with my own eyes,” Bito-onon added. The mayor said the Filipino fishermen pulled back and returned to fish in the evening. Bito-onon admitted he himself is now confused over the Chinese activities in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal, located approximately 100 nautical miles off Rizal town in Palawan. “I don’t understand what China wants to project...that (Ayungin) is midway from Palawan to Pagasa. What they (Chinese) want to project, they are in our exclusive economic zone. I am really confused,” Bito-onon said. The mayor said he could not imagine himself being drive away by the Chinese in his own municipality of Pagasa. “I might have a chance to go to China without a passport because I was caught in my own municipality, in my own territory. So, I still have to look for that day when I am apprehended and just caught in my own territory,” Bito-onon said. Chinese vessels have been staying in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal since May despite protest from the Philippine government. Bito-onon said that the last time he sailed along Ayungin Shoal, there were still two Chinese vessels in the area. “They are still there, we still assume that up to now, they are still there,” Bito-onon said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/pinoy-fishermen-harassed-by-chinese-off-ayungin-lastjune-says-palawan-mayor


Rice terraces made for planting rice, not for wakeskating — Ifugao solon Written by  Gerry Baldo   Wednesday, 30 October 2013 00:00   A lawmaker from the world famous Banaue Rice Terraces yesterday warned that the rice terraces, considered as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” are not a place for wakeskating. According to Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, the rice terraces were made by their ancestors some 2000 years ago for rice planting and not for wakeskating. “If it were just a promotional gimmick, then I can live with it because it is a creative way to bring tourists to the Terraces. But we have to remember that the Rice Terraces were built for food production, not for leisure or extreme sports,” Baguilat said yesterday. Wakeskaters Brian Grubb (American) and Dominik Preisner (German) did a wakeskating stint in the scenic World Heritage Site in Banaue. Grubb described the terraces as a wakeskating paradise. His video went viral in the internet. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) said that the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras is an outstanding example of an evolved, living cultural landscape that can be traced as far back as two millennia ago in the pre-colonial Philippines. The terraces are located in the remote areas of the Philippine Cordillera mountain range covering an extensive area located in four municipalities including the Nagacadan terrace cluster in the municipality of Kiangan, a rice terrace cluster manifested in two distinct ascending rows of terraces bisected by a river; (ii) the Hungduan terrace cluster that uniquely emerges into a spider web; (iii) the central Mayoyao terrace cluster which is characterized by terraces interspersed with traditional farmers’ bale (houses) and alang (granaries); (iv) the Bangaan terrace cluster in the municipality of Banaue that backdrops a typical Ifugao traditional village; and (v) the Batad terrace cluster of the municipality of Banaue that is nestled in amphitheater-like semi-circular terraces with a village at its base. Unesco described the Ifugao Rice Terraces as the absolute blending of the physical, sociocultural, economic, religious, and political environment. “Indeed, it is a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty.” According to the wakeskaters they have secured the permission of the tribal leaders there before they pulled off their move and rode the Terraces’ paddies. Baguilat, however, cautioned that wakeskating cannot be a regular tourism activity because the paddies — where Grubb wakeskated — are utilized the whole year round. “If this is going to be a tourism activity, there should be a serious consideration on its impact. I’m sure the farmers would not want to be disrupted in their planting, harvesting and fallow period,” Baguilat said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/rice-terraces-made-for-planting-rice-not-forwakeskating-ifugao-solon


VP Binay laments lack of special precincts for senior citizens, disabled Written by  Tribune   Wednesday, 30 October 2013 00:00   Vice President Jejomar Binay lamented the failure to provide special precincts for senior citizens and persons with disability (PWD) in Monday’s barangay elections. The Vice President stressed the need to hasten the process of providing elderly and PWDfriendly polling precincts. “We have to make sure that by 2016, our senior citizens and PWDs are encouraged to vote, and they are able to do so in a manner that will cause them as little stress as possible,” he said. Binay recalled the experiences of senior citizens and PWDs during the mid-term elections in May which he said led to the low voter turnout from the sector. “Last election, many senior citizens and PWDs were unable to vote because in some cases the precincts were located on the fourth floor,” Binay pointed out. “Children of senior citizens who had finished voting would dissuade their parents, saying the conditions were unbearable considering their fragile health,” he added. Binay earlier had criticized the Commission on Elections as National Council on Disability Affairs executive director Carmen Zubiaga’s claimed that only two out of the 36,778 polling centers in the country were designated as pilot Accessible Polling Places for PWDs and the elderly. Binay, however, expressed hope that the policy of setting up special precincts for the elderly and PWDs will soon be implemented in all polling areas. “At least now you can read in the papers that some areas already have special precincts,” he said. He noted that senior citizens in Barangay San Antonio in Makati, where he resides, are now more willing to vote because of a special precinct for them. “Now that a special precinct has been set aside for them, they are more eager to participate in the elections,” he said. Meanwhile, Binay commended the Boy Scouts and other volunteers who were on hand during the elections to help senior citizens and PWDs. Binay is the national president of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines. http://www.tribune.net.ph/metro-section/vp-binay-laments-lack-of-special-precincts-forsenior-citizens-disabled


Comelec sarado sa anumang apela (Noel Abuel/Armida Rico/Amihan Sabillo) Nanindigan ang Commission on Elections (Comelec) na hindi na sila tatanggap ng anumang apela kaugnay sa kaso ng mga kinanselang proklamasyon ng halos 400 na kumandidato at nanalo sa nakalipas na barangay elections. Ito ang sinabi ni Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr., sakaling mapatunayang hindi rehistradong botante, may criminal convictions at isang nuisance candidate ang nanalong kandidato. Giit nito, malinaw aniya sa batas na tanging ang mga kuwalipikado lamang na kumandidato ay ang mga sumailalim sa proseso ng voters registration “Tiningnan na kasi namin ‘yon, dahil nakita ng aming Law Department na may ilan palang kandidato ay walang record. Ibig sabihin hindi sila registered voters,� sabi pa ni Brillantes. Alinsunod sa panuntunan ng Comelec, kung ang nanalong kandidato ay mapatunayang hindi kuwalipikado, ipoproklama ang sunod na kandidatong nakakuha ng maraming bilang ng boto.644 lumabag sa gun ban -- PNP Naiproklama na ang karamihan sa mga nanalong punong barangay, kagawad at Sangguniang Kabataan representative at maituturing na ring tapos ang eleksyon sa karamihan lugar, pero ang pagpapatupad sa gun ban ay magtatapos sa Nobyembre 12, kung saan umabot pa sa 644-katao ang mga nadakip na lumabag dito simula ng nakalipas na Setyembre 28. Habang nasa 268 indibidwal naman ang naaresto na lumabag sa liquor ban. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/oct3013/news13.htm#.UnB1lVO7GW4


Code White sa Undas Mag-ingat sa mga lako sa sementeryo -DOH (Juliet de Loza-Cudia) Inilagay sa Code White alert ng Department of Health (DOH) ang lahat ng pagamutang nasasakupan nito bilang preparasyon sa anumang health emergencies na maaaring maganap sa paggunita ng Undas. Nabatid kay Health Secretary Enrique Ona, sa ilalim ng Code White alert, ang lahat ng personnel ng pagamutan mula sa general surgeon, orthopedics, anesthesiologists, internists, operating room nurses, ophthalmologists at otorhinolaryngologists ay dapat na handa upang tumugon sa mga emergency situations. Maging ang mga emergency service personnel, nurses at administrative staff na nasa hospital dormitories ay isasailalim naman sa on-call status para sa agarang mobilisasyon. Ang DOH-Health Emergency Management Staff (HEMS) naman, aniya, ang siyang magmomonitor ng sitwasyon sa loob ng 24-oras upang matiyak na kaagad na matutugunan at mabibigyan ng medical attention ang anumang health emergencies. Makikipag-ugnayan din ang DOH sa lahat ng local government units (LGUs), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), at Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) na magpapakalat din ng mga medical teams malapit sa mga sementeryo. Samantala, nagbabala rin ang DOH sa publiko laban sa pagbili ng mga pagkaing ibinibenta sa mga sementeryo na maaari umanong maging sanhi ng sakit. Sinabi ni Ona na posibleng ang mga pagkaing itinitinda sa mga sementeryo ay mapanganib dahil sa mga ganitong lugar ay madaling makontamina ang mga pagkain, at maging sanhi pa ng food poisoning at diarrhea. Kabilang sa mga pagkain na malimit na ipinagbibili sa mga kalsada ay ang mga pansit, spaghetti, mangga, cassava, mga palamig, isaw, mais, itlog at iba pa.Ingat sa kandilang may lead Pinag-iingat ng grupong EcoWaste Coalition laban sa paggamit ng mga kandilang ang mga mitsa na may taglay na nakalalasong kemikal na lead ngayong Undas. Nabatid sa EcoWaste CoAyon kay Thony Dizon, coordinator ng EcoWaste Project Protect, madali umanong malalanghap ang lead sa sandaling sindihan na ang mga mitsa ng mga kandila. May masamang epekto ito sa utak, gayundin sa mga bata at mga buntis. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/oct3013/news12.htm#.UnB1nVO7GW4


Kumpanyang walang CCTV, sususpendehin


(Aries Cano) Oobligahin ang mga business establishment at mga tanggapan ng gobyerno na maglagay ng mga closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras. Ipinanukala ng dalawang kongresista sa Kamara na gawing mandatory requirement ang CCTV installation sa mga establisimiyento at opisina ng gobyerno sa buong bansa. Ayon sa magkapatid na solon na sina Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez at Abante Mindanao partylist Rep. Maximo Rodriguez sa pamamagitan ng House Bill 2449 o CCTV Act of 2013, ang paglalagay ng CCTV ay malaking tulong para mapigil at maresolba ang krimen. Nakapaloob sa panukala na kasama sa aatasan na maglagay ng CCTV ay mga business establishment gaya ng restaurant, hospital, mall, shopping center, movie house, supermarket, groceries, entertainment center, office building, warehouses, at iba pa. Pati mga government offices ay kasali rin sa mandatory CCTV installations. Bago maisyuhan ng business permit ay kailangang sumunod sa naturang rekisitos. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/oct3013/news07.htm#.UnB1p1O7GW4


2013 10 30 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

Philippine Agriculture and Related News' Daily Monitor